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BGA: Tax Hike Plan Is 'Backroom Dealing'

CHICAGO (WBBM) -- The Better Government Association describes the income tax hike being cooked up in Springfield as "closed-door backroom dealing."

As WBBM Newsradio 780's Regine Schlesinger reports, BGA executive director Andy Shaw says so far, there have been no public hearings held and no questions answered, as Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois legislators work on what would be the biggest income tax increase in state history.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780's Regine Schlesinger reports


"Where are the cuts? Where is the streamlining? Where is the guarantee that the money won't be wasted? And most importantly, where is the guarantee that we won't be in the same fiscal mess in three or four years? None of those questions have been answered, so at this point, this has not been an example of good government," Shaw said. "This is closed-door backroom dealing."

Without taking a stand on the tax hike itself, Shaw says the BGA is disappointed the tax hike might be rammed through a lame-duck session, with at least a dozen lawmakers leaving office as of Wednesday.

Democrats are considering a plan to boost the 3 percent income tax rate to 5.25 percent for four years, a 75 percent increase. They're also looking at a dollar-a-pack increase in cigarette taxes, more than double the current rate.

Together, the increases would produce about $7.5 billion a year, backers say. The money would be used in several ways: to close the gap between annual government costs and revenues, to provide money for education and property tax relief, and to finance borrowing about $8 billion to pay off the state's backlog of overdue bills.

After four years, the income tax rate would drop, although not all the way back to current levels. With officials still negotiating, it was unclear how much the rate would drop.

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