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State

State representative: Vote on tax hike likely coming

SPRINGFIELD – A member of House Speaker Mike Madigan’s leadership team says there will be a vote to raise taxes before the Legislature adjourns this spring.

State Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, said the General Assembly almost certainly will vote on whether to either extend or make permanent the temporary income tax increase before the end of May. That vote will be coupled with the elimination of certain tax exemptions.

Mautino declined to say what exemptions are being targeted.

But he added that the House Democratic Caucus plans to work with business groups in this major rewrite of the state’s tax code.

In 2011, the General Assembly passed a 67 percent income tax hike, bumping the income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent.

That tax hike is slated to expire in January 2015.

“Under our budgeting rules, if we don’t pass this [increase] now, our only option is to pass a ‘doomsday budget.” Mautino said.

In addition to making the tax hike permanent and eliminating certain tax exemptions, there will be spending cuts, Mautino said.

But Mautino declined to say what state programs may face cuts.

Mautino is the deputy majority leader and a member of the House Revenue & Finance Committee. He also serves on the Income Tax Subcommittee; the Sales and Other Taxes Subcommittee; and the Tax Policy: Sales Tax Subcommittee.

“What we are doing is looking at redoing the whole tax code in Illinois,” he said.

A simple majority in both the House and Senate is needed to pass an extension of the tax hike.

Although Democrats control both chambers, it is not clear whether there are sufficient votes for passage.

“We don’t know because no one has been pushed yet,” he said.

News of the possible tax vote was not warmly received by some Republicans.

“The only solutions Democrats seem to be offering is raising taxes,” said Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for GOP Senate leader Christine Radogno. “Their last tax increase was passed during a lame duck session in the middle of the night. It was the largest in Illinois history – a 67 percent income tax increase. They promised that it would be temporary. They promised that it would pay the bills. They promised that it would get Illinois out of debt and balance the budget, and now they want to make their tax increase permanent with the same promises. Why would anyone believe them?”

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