A bill under consideration in the Illinois Senate would raise state income tax rates for individuals and corporations as a way to pay down state debt and for education.
A Senate committee approved a plan Wednesday to increase Illinois’ income tax rates for individuals and corporations, generating more than $7 billion for education and property-tax relief while paying down the state's debt.
Senate Bill 2288 remains a work in progress, the senators behind the legislation said.
But it also serves as a starting point for discussions aimed at attracting enough legislative support to override an anticipated veto from Gov. Rod Blagojevich, said Sens. James Meeks and John Cullerton, both Chicago Democrats. The governor has said repeatedly he wouldn’t increase the state’s income or sales taxes.
The Senate Education Committee voted 6-3 for SB2288, advancing it to the Senate floor.
But the full chamber is unlikely to consider the plan anytime soon. Meeks and Cullerton said they want bipartisan support for the bill and will keep revising it until they achieve that goal. If it eventually becomes law, it would take effect Jan. 1, 2009.
As described by Meeks and Cullerton, the bill would:
-- Raise the state’s personal income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent, and the state’s corporate income tax rate from 4.8 percent to 8 percent.
-- Increase funding for K-12 education by $633 million and funding for higher education by $300 million in the first year.
-- Provide $2.9 billion in property-tax relief.
-- Help get the state out of debt, specifically on its pension obligations and Medicaid bills.
Legislators and interest groups have debated school funding reform for years, but they haven’t been able to agree on the details of how to achieve it.
Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat who chairs the committee, said she thinks last year’s lengthy, contentious legislative session has made senators "more open-minded" about school funding reform this year.
But she warned against loading up the bill with too many items intended only to garner support from more lawmakers.
"I don’t want the balloon bill," Lightford said. "I don’t want everybody (saying) ‘I want this. I want that,’ and you have 59 senators saying what they want to get a bill passed, and then we lose sight of the purpose of education funding reform."
Adriana Colindres can be reached at (217) 782-6292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.