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Lack of votes in House stalls income tax hike bill
By John Patterson | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/29/2009 12:04 PM | Updated: 5/29/2009 8:25 PM

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SPRINGFIELD - House Democrats pulled the plug Friday on a potential tax hike after it became clear they lacked the votes to pass it.

"There is not widespread support for a tax increase." said Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan

Earlier Friday, Gov. Pat Quinn had predicted an income tax increase, which he supports, would come up for a vote in the Illinois House as lawmakers scramble to try to fill a $12 billion budget hole before a midnight Sunday deadline for action.

One version would have been a temporary 50 percent increase in the individual income tax rate, taking it to 4.5 percent from 3 percent. It would take effect July 1 and expire June 30, 2011.

House Democrats huddled behind closed doors Friday, emerging to say they don't have the 60 votes needed.

"I'm taking the position that in this economy people can't afford a tax increase," said state Rep. Mark Walker, an Arlington Heights Democrat.

Republicans came out of a similar meeting and said there's zero support among their members for higher taxes.

State Rep. Michael Tryon, a Crystal Lake Republican, said Republicans have warned for years that state spending was outstripping revenues.

"And suddenly that's supposed to justify raising taxes?" Tryon said.

The House, which had been anticipated to work late Friday, quickly adjourned. Lawmakers are scheduled back in today and on Sunday. Attendance of weekend sessions is often spotty so its questionable whether there'll be another serious run at a tax increase.

If they don't balance a budget by June 1, passing one requires additional votes. And Democrats, at least in the House, will have to reach across the aisle to find Republican support to get anything done.

Carol Stream Republican state Rep. Randy Ramey said Republicans are prepared to wait for a seat at the bargaining table and he'd be fine with a government shutdown when the current budget runs out at the end of June.

"Kentucky shut it down for one day, got it solved. Pennsylvania shut it down for one day, got it solved," Ramey said. "So I think there's enough pressure out there that we can then sit down and negotiate and get things accomplished."

Daily Herald staff writers Dan Carden and Nicole Milstead contributed to this report.