Tax hike in Illinois? Lawmakers to meet Friday as state faces $4 billion deficit

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CHICAGO — In a surprise move last week, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan announced the House will reconvene Friday for the first time since May.

Madigan’s future and the state’s desperate financial situation hang over the proceedings. Then on Monday, Republican lawmakers issued an urgent warning.

“It’s often been said that no Illinoisans life, liberty or property is safe when the legislature is in session,” House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said. “That has never been more true today and the week ahead.”

Madigan, who is still hunting for votes to keep his leadership post, has called a special session in Springfield set to kick off on Friday. Madigan has told lawmakers he’s prepared to vote to increase the state’s income tax rate.

Republicans said they believe the legislation is about to be introduced.

“Madigan and his cohorts will be trying to sneak a tax increase, yes, sneak a tax increase into the lame duck session,” Durkin said.

With the state facing a $4 billion budget shortfall, Republicans are not identifying what cuts they would support.

“The governor owns this budget. It’s his responsibility to put forward a budget,” Durkin said.

Democratic Representative Emanuel Chris Welch responded to the GOP claims, saying talk of a tax increase is premature.

“I would hope that Jim Durkin and the Republicans would come to Springfield prepared to work collaboratively rather than score political points,” he said. “I have not seen anything that would suggest any tax increase in on the agenda for next week.”

Definitely on the agenda is electing a speaker. But 19 of the 73 Democrats expected to be seated maintain they will not vote for Madigan, leaving him six votes short of the 60 members needed.

The House Democratic Women’s Caucus announced a forum for speaker candidates on Monday. Black and Latinx Caucus members have also held discussions with Madigan and Representative Stephanie Kifowit, the only Democrat to publicly enter the race.

“The process is working and this is how the process should work,” Welch said. “And we will see next week if the speaker has the votes.”

Republicans said with Madigan campaigning to keep his job there’s no telling what legislation he’ll rush through.

“Madigan is not backing down and will do anything and everything to find 60 votes for speaker,” Durkin said.

An agenda for the special session has not been posted but Madigan told the Black Caucus he will take up their causes.

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