QUINN PUTS OFF TAX HIKE UNTIL FEBRUARY
Also during the meeting, state leaders discussed ways of dealing with Illinois’ ongoing fiscal crisis, with Republican leaders voicing their support for solutions other than tax hikes.
In a reversal, Governor Quinn backed away from a previous pledge to force a vote this fall on his proposed 50 percent income tax hike to cover the multi-billion dollar deficit. This week, he said he would instead seek the potential $6 billion tax increase after the primary in February.
WHAT ABOUT CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM?
It is becoming increasingly clear that time is running out for campaign finance reform this year. Following Governor Quinn’s August veto of a reform bill widely derided by ethics watchdog groups as being too lax and full of loopholes, Democrat leaders vowed to pass a stronger measure during the fall legislative veto session.
However, since then little discussion has been held on the topic and in the latest leaders’ meeting, Democrats relegated campaign finance reform to a side issue placed toward the end of the agenda, despite Republican calls for action.
TOLL HIGHWAY INQUIRY
Lawmakers held an inquiry this week to determine why a company hired by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority to run its seven oases defaulted on its lease, resulting in more than $2.5 million owed to the state in back rent. The company, Wilton Partners, was a major political donor to former Governor Rod Blagojevich, who is accused of leveraging tollway business for campaign contributions.
While Toll Highway members acknowledged mistakes in the past by previous officials, they vowed to correct past errors and ensure greater oversight in the future. More hearings are expected in the coming weeks, including an examination of a $1.8 billion construction program initiated by former Governor Blagojevich to build “Green Lanes” on the tollways.