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Gov. Pat Quinn talks taxes with ex-Gov. Jim Edgar

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn sought advice for his income-tax-property-tax plan from what might seem an unusual source:

Former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar.

Quinn said Edgar was surprised when Quinn called him Tuesday to pick his brain about extending the income tax increase and coupling it with property tax relief.

“He said, ‘Well you’ve got to get the [legislative] leaders on board,'” Quinn said.

Edgar would know.

In 1997, he sought to revamp education funding by raising the state income tax and offsetting some of that with property tax relief. His measure passed the Democratic-led House, but was never called for a vote in the state Senate, then led by Republican James “Pate” Philip.

Quinn spoke of his conversations with Edgar in a meeting Thursday with the Sun-Times Editorial Board.

The 1997 funding plan represented a turnaround for Edgar. Three years earlier he had pilloried Democratic challenger Dawn Clark Netsch for proposing virtually the same education tax-swap plan during the 1994 election.

“We didn’t talk about that, ‘94” Quinn said of his conversation with Edgar. “But we did talk about what happened in ’97.”

Quinn said Edgar also warned “there may be some skepticism by some folks on whether they will get property tax relief.”

Edgar wasn’t the only Republican whom Quinn called for advice about his budget plan. He said he also reached out to former GOP Gov. Jim Thompson.

“He said he would look at our ideas,” Quinn said. “The difference between me and him on this issue is Jim Thompson did things after the election, OK? ‘Ooop, ooop, we need money.’ OK? We’re doing this before the election.”