Madigan’s ‘Millionaire’s Amendment’ falls short in Illinois House

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Mike Madigan pushed for millionaire’s amendment in Springfield, which ultimately failed. Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media

SPRINGFIELD — House Speaker Mike Madigan tabled a bid to raise taxes on millionaires Thursday after it failed to reach the 71 votes — a supermajority — needed to advance.

The roll call came to68-47 before Madigan pulled it for “postponed consideration.”

But Madigan may have already gotten what he needed — a record showing that Republicans voted against the populist idea to tax the wealthy, something that Illinois voters supported overwhelmingly in an advisory vote last year.

Madigan’s office wasted no time blaming Republicans for the defeat, releasing a statement blasting them for “turning their backs on middle-class families.”

Democrats hold a supermajority in the Illinois House, but not everyone was on board. State Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, and state Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, all voted against it.

A supermajority is required because the amendment is aimed at revising the state constitution.

The millionaire’s amendment proposes to place aconstitutional question on the November 2016 general election ballot for voters to decide. The amendment authorizes a 3 percent tax surcharge on all income greater than $1 million. Madigan estimates the proceedsat $1 billion, and says they would go toward schools.Illinois voters backed the initiative by more than 64 percent.

The debate over whether to adjust the state’s tax structure is the closest that Democrats and Republicans have come to publicly addressing revenue options and how to fix a $6 billion budget hole.

Madigan, D-Chicago, sent messages, seemingly to Gov. Bruce Rauner — himself a multimillionaire — that he’s ready and willing to negotiate on a budget that includes a mix of cuts and added revenue.

“I stand ready to negotiate with the appropriate people to reach that goal,” Madigan said.

Madigan was asked why look only to the millionaire’s tax and not other items in the tax code, like a freeze on property taxes. Madigan indicated he would be open to that discussion.

In this session?

“The answer is yes,” he said.

“Certain people in this state have been very fortunate and we want to ask them to give more to the educational system,” Madigan said.

Madigan faced blistering criticism from Republicans who pinned part of the state’s pension crisis on Madigan, who has held an ironclad grip on the Illinois House for decades. They also argued that passing such a resolution would cause prosperous individuals in Illinois to flee the state.

State Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, turned the debate to previous decisions by the General Assembly that contributed to Illinois’ revenue shortage, leading to the present-day crisis.

Sandack cited previous votes by Madigan that supported pension sweeteners such as compounding cost-of-living increases, pension holidays and scheduled ramped-up pension payments.

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, tried to pin down Madigan on whether he supported a term limit bill that Republicans have pushed.

“Mr. Durkin, I support term limits — as administered by the voters of the state,”Madigan replied.

Durkin retorted that Illinois residents were “voting with their feet” and leaving the state.

State Rep. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, cited data that showed Illinois has one of the lowest income tax rates in the nation.Even after imposing a surcharge, Martwick said, there would be roughly 22 states where people making $1 million or more would still pay more taxes than in Illinois.

“I wonder, Mr. Speaker, where all these people are going to move?”

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