Quinn wants to level the playing field, tax the wealthy more - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Quinn wants to level the playing field, tax the wealthy more

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Gov. Quinn said Friday he wants to make Illinois's income tax fairer by collecting more from those who earn over $250,000 a year.

It's the clearest statement the governor's has made since several dozen Democrats in the General Assembly proposed amending the Illinois Constitution. They would replace Illinois's current, flat income tax -- now scheduled to drop from 5 percent to 3.25 percent at the end of next year -- with higher rates for higher earners.

"I think if you make over $250,000 you can pay a higher income tax rate. We put it on the ballot in our state. People voted for it by 77 percent," Quinn said.

That was several years ago in an advisory-only referendum that ultimately had not impact on tax rates. If several dozen Democrats in the General Assembly have their way, there will be a referendum on the ballot next year that could bring the biggest changes in the Illinois income tax since it was created.

By coincidence, Quinn's comments came after a summit on regional competitiveness. Also there were two neighboring Republican governors with a very different approach to taxes.

"We've lowered taxes by $1.4 billion over the last 2-1/2 years at a time when, obviously, other states have raised them in and around our region," Wisc. Gov. Scott Walker said.

Walker says it's helped Wisconsin to persuade a growing list of Illinois-based companies to put new facilities and new jobs in the Badger State.

"Whether it was Kenall Manufacturing, that just recently announced their efforts to move into Kenosha, whether it was, the week before, Hanna Cylinders, whether it was Emco Chemical Distributors; all those are companies that have come up to Kenosha County," Walker said.

Also drawing jobs and investment away from Illinois is Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's home state. A quick check of the internet found Caterpillar, one of Illinois's flagship corporations, advertising Friday to fill at least 76 different jobs at its new plant in Muncie, Indiana. Cat said Illinois wasn't even in the running for that plant, because the cost of doing business is so much lower in Indiana.

"Caterpillar's had a presence in Indiana for some time. And we welcome their renewed investment in recent years. And we'd welcome more investment," Pence said.

Mark Denzler, chief operating officer of the Illinois Manufacturers Association, says raising the state income tax will make it even tougher for Illinois businesses to compete.

"Illinois already has some of the highest taxes in the country. Raising taxes on Illinois employers and individuals at a time when our unemployment is 9.2 per cent -- the second-highest rate in the country -- doesn't make any sense," Denzler said.

The battle over changing the income tax and raising the rate may be the hottest issue to face the Spring session of the General Assembly. It will need 60 percent approval in both the House and Senate in Springfield and 60 percent approval by voters in a fall referendum.

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