SPRINGFIELD --- Speaker Michael Madigan's symbolic "millionaire's tax" fall ballot question got out of the House today.
House lawmakers voted 64-46 to put on the Nov. 4 ballot an advisory question asking voters whether they support the idea of an extra 3-percentage-point tax on incomes of more than $1 million a year.
The question would not have the force of law, but would be aimed at building political support at the Capitol for Madigan's other plan that failed this spring: a referendum question that would have changed the state’s constitution to charge an 8 percent income tax on income of more than $1 million. The personal income tax rate in Illinois is 5 percent, but is scheduled to fall back to 3.75 percent in January if lawmakers don't extend a 2011 income tax hike.
Opponents argued the additional tax would be unfair and place particular burden on small businesses and questioned the need to put the question before voters instead of asking lawmakers to take a stance on the issue.
Madigan acknowledged there wasn’t enough support among legislators to pass the idea outright and argued that if voters approve the idea it could sway the minds of lawmakers. He contended those making more than $1 million annually could shoulder the extra expense. Madigan also downplayed accusations that the question is aimed at driving Democrats to turn out to the polls this fall.