SPRINGFIELD - House Speaker Mike Madigan appeared before the House Revenue Committee Thursday with yet another proposed ballot referendum - this one to ask Illinois voters whether they favor the millionaire tax he was unable to get through the Illinois House earlier this year. Madigan's proposed advisory referendum would be non-binding, and would simply get a reading of where Illinois voters are on the issue of those making a million dollars a year paying a larger percentage of taxes than non-millionaires.
During his committee presentation, Speaker Madigan and Republican Spokesperson State Rep. Ed Sullivan had a back-and-forth revealing three points: 1.) The speaker doesn't have the votes to make the temporary tax hike permanent, 2.) While fighting in court the term limit and redistricting binding referendums, he's eager to get on the ballot non-binding advisories that will get his party's voters to the polls and 3.) He's not interested in taxpayers' opinion on whether the 2011 tax hike should remain permanent.
Madigan's "moot" comment as transcribed below may reflect frustrating facts that a reported 30 members of his House Democratic Caucus won't vote for the tax extension, and one key Democrat - whose vote he's counting on - will begin a felony trial May 29th. It's apparent that Madigan is at least trying to give the impression that he won't be able to get the needed votes for a tax extension before the May 31st adjournment scheduled.
SULLIVAN: The Question was simply that we could have as many advisory referendums as possible on the ballot, and you answered to the affirmative, and this vote would need only a total of 60 votes as opposed to the previous question that you attempted to put on the ballot would need 71 votes. Correct?
SULLIVAN: Would you agree that those that make a million dollars would be in the minority of taxpayers?
MADIGAN: That's correct.
S: The House Republicans have put forth an advisory that would ask a majority of the people - obviously everybody that pays taxes - whether they would like the present tax be at five percent or stay at five percent. Would you be amenable to trying to move that legislation out of committee as well so they can have a multiple choices regarding how they want to be taxed?
M: Does your question relate to the proposed extension of the income tax increase?
S: Yes it does.
M: I think as a result of yesterday, that's pretty much moot.
S: Wouldn't it be a good idea to ask people if they want to have it or not? cause I think this point is not moot until January 2015 and potentially in the future. When we're talking about tax policy, and you have brought something forth to talk about tax policy ... and asking the voters what they believe, wouldn't it be fair to ask voters on this question which is actually in law right now?
M: We would prefer to do this question ... (smiles)
S: Okay, well I'm willing to work with you on this, we're willing to vote for yours, if you're willing to vote with us on ours ...
M: (Shakes his head) ... We're not interested in that proposition ... (smiles)