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Déjà vote: Madigan millionaire tax fails once again

Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, speaks to reporters earlier this month. (AP File Photo/Seth Perlman)

In a déjà vu moment, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s constitutional amendment to impose an extra tax on millionaires to fund schools once again failed to garner enough votes in the Illinois House on Wednesday.

The roll call came to 68-47 — an identical vote to May 21, 2015, when Madigan first tried to pass the amendment — which Illinois voters supported overwhelmingly in an advisory vote in 2014.

And just like last year, Madigan got a record showing that Republicans voted against the populist idea.

Only two Democrats voted no: Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, and Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood.

Although Illinois voters supported the idea to tax the wealthy, it would take a supermajority vote of 71 because the amendment is aimed at revising the constitution.

The amendment would have authorized a 3 percent tax surcharge on all income greater than $1 million. Madigan estimated the proceeds at $1 billion, which would have gone toward schools.

On the House floor on Wednesday, Madigan was asked by State Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, whether he believes term limits should come before the millionaire tax — that’s a reform Gov. Bruce Rauner has pushing in his Turnaround Agenda and one his administration says he’d support.

Madigan said term limits are administered by voters –who can choose to retain an elected official or not at the ballot box.

“Members of your political party and Gov. Rauner subjected me to a vote of the people in the last primary election, and I won overwhelmingly. Thank you very much,” Madigan told Sandack.

Also before the vote, Madigan listed the names of Republican representatives whose constituents voted for the millionaire tax. All but two GOP House members in turn voted no on the constitutional amendment. The two did not vote. At least one wasn’t in attendance.

Madigan reiterated his push for a “balanced approach to solving the deficit problem of the state,” including some cuts and some new revenue. He also stressed that he’s ready to negotiate with Gov. Bruce Rauner.

“I’m prepared to negotiate with the governor to determine what the sources of the new revenue would be,” Madigan said, adding he’s also willing to negotiate on reforms, which Rauner has been pushing in his Turnaround Agenda.

After the vote, Madigan said in a statement that the proposed amendment isn’t partisan, because over 60 percent of voters supported it statewide.

“The people of Illinois spoke — they believe a surcharge on millionaires is a good way to get our schools the help they need,” Madigan said in a statement. “We should listen to the wishes of our constituents, not big business or the 1 percent who would put profits ahead of our children’s education. Unfortunately today, Republicans again failed to listen to their constituents.”

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said he was “confused by the Speaker’s comments” and accused Madigan of “playing politics.”

“His tax increase was rejected again with both Republican and Democrat votes,” Durkin said in his own written statement. “Going into the vote today it was clear that there was never a supermajority in support.

“This type of vote simply provides political propaganda for the upcoming fall election. I suggest we get back to solving the budget impasse rather than playing politics.”