Illinois Senate committee advances advisory referendum on 'millionaire tax'

From staff and wire reportsMay 28, 2014 

Illinois Legislature

The floor of the Illinois Senate.

SETH PERLMAN — AP

An Illinois Senate committee advanced a plan Wednesday that will allow the so-called millionaire tax question to be on the November ballot.

The Senate Executive Committee approved a measure Wednesday on a non-binding resolution asking voters if the Illinois Constitution should be amended to add a 3 percent surcharge to annual incomes of more than $1 million. The idea is to generate money for education.

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan is sponsoring the measure.

Proponents say the initiative will help build support for the proposal in the Illinois Legislature next year. But Republicans raised concerns about it being a measure to simply drive voter turnout.

Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, who is a member of the committee, asked if the money generated from the tax would really go toward education. Luechtefeld said voters also were promised that money from the lottery would go toward education. Sen. Christine Radogno, a Republican from Lemont, said constituents frequently ask her, "What happened to the lottery money?"

Madigan tried earlier this year to get a binding measure on the ballot to increase taxes on millionaires, but failed to get the three-fifths majority necessary in the Legislature.

The move comes on the heels of Madigan's recent introduction of a different ballot question, asking if voters think lawmakers should approve increasing the state's minimum wage to $10 an hour, and joins other questions on voter protections and victim's rights. The bill calling for a non-binding referendum on the minimum-wage was approved by the Senate on Tuesday, and now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat who supports raising the minimum wage.

The slew of ballot questions is designed to drive voters inclined to vote Democratic to the polls and offset GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's own ballot initiative, which would ask voters whether the state constitution should be amended to limit the terms of lawmakers to eight years.

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