State Legislator Serving for a Day May Vote On Income Tax Hike

January 07, 2011

Shane Cultra's longtime aide, Russell Geisler, will be taking over his boss' Illinois House seat for just one day this Sunday --- the day that Democrats could bring their budget measure to a vote.

Under the plan outlined by Senate President John Cullerton on Thursday night, Illinois' three percent income tax would jump to a rate of five and a quarter. For taxpayers that is a 75 percent increase. After about four years, the rate will drop, making it a solid 25 percent hike.

Champaign Republicans have raised concerns about Geisler's temporary appointment to the General Assembly, saying he should not be allowed to vote during his day in office.

Cultra said he believes Geisler will vote for the legislation to raise the state's income tax, just as he would. The measure also includes an increase in the corporate income tax that Cultra said would make it the highest in the country. The Onarga Republican said the state needs to cut spending before it considers raising taxes.

"This is a huge, huge tax increase," Cultra said. "It's going to hurt people. I think you have to bite the bullet, and start cutting programs back. You're just going to have to start cutting everything."

Cultra could have another chance to vote on the income tax proposal if it comes to the Illinois Senate --- a body he will join next week. But State Senator Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign) said he is not sure if the proposal will make it that far.

Frerichs would not commit to supporting the take hike, which he said he still needs to review. However, he did say along with spending cuts, the state needs to find new revenue to address a deficit that could hit $15-billion this year.

"There's a general agreement in our caucus that we don't want to see devastating cuts to our universities, to our education system, to our pension contributions," Frerichs said. "In order to make those payments, we need to find revenue so that we can pay our bills."

Democrats are hurrying to get the legislation passed before Wednesday when the lame duck session ends. Democrats will still hold the majority in both chambers when lawmakers are sworn in on Jan. 12, though there will be more Republican in the General Assembly.

Story source: WILL