The Illinois arm of Americans for Prosperity, a national conservative advocacy group, is targeting a handful of suburban Democratic state lawmakers with video ads in its fight against the idea of a graduated income tax.
The spot subs in different lawmakers' names depending on where it runs. A spokesman said the first lawmakers being targeted include Reps. Carol Sente of Vernon Hills, Marty Moylan of Des Plaines, Deb Conroy of Villa Park and Stephanie Kifowit of Aurora.
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You might have seen similar ads in the spring, particularly online.
None of the four has signed on to legislation to install a graduated income tax in Illinois, and they haven't signed onto a resolution opposing it.
To tax or not to tax
The question is to what degree this idea will even get debated next year.
Because state lawmakers' next budget year includes expiration of the 2011 income tax hike and billions of dollars in bills that won't be paid off anytime soon, taxes are set to be a big topic of debate next year.
Lawmakers could renew the tax hike. They could let it expire. They could do something completely different. What the final result will be is completely unpredictable.
How the idea of a graduated income tax plays into that remains to be seen. Illinois now has a 5 percent income tax for individuals. A graduated tax would set different rates depending on incomes.
Changing the law would require an amendment to the state constitution, which would face a very bumpy road among lawmakers and also would have to be approved by voters in November 2014.
State Sen. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat, has proposed one such amendment.
Would you pay more?
How would a graduated income tax affect your bottom line? No one knows.
It's unclear what the rates would be for which income brackets. And who knows how much you'll be making at the time this eventually would become law? More, we hope.
People arguing your state taxes would go down or up don't know that for sure yet.
Asking for an extension
A handful of Illinois Democratic members of Congress this week outlined county-by-county numbers of people who will lose unemployment benefits Dec. 28.
Their numbers come from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, and here they are:
• Cook (with Chicago): 38,260
• DuPage: 4,965
• Will: 4,474
• Lake: 3,546
• Kane: 3,086
• McHenry: 1,642
Last week, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Evanston Democrat, was the only House member from Illinois to vote against a bipartisan budget deal, saying lawmakers should have extended unemployment benefits.
"That is inexcusable and Congress has an obligation to ensure that millions of people can keep their modest benefits," Schakowsky said in a statement.
As it is, people are set to lose benefits Dec. 28 if Congress doesn't extend benefits beyond the standard 26 weeks. Illinois has a higher unemployment rate than the national average.
Members joining Schakowsky to call for an extension included U.S. Reps. Bill Foster of Naperville, Mike Quigley of Chicago and Brad Schneider of Deerfield.
Spoiler alert -- she didn't win
"To pay off the state's unpaid bills, I'd have to win the $636 MegaMillion jackpot 14 (times). On the bright side, I'd have $104 million to spare."
Wishes of better luck next time to Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who posted this on Twitter.
The sad news of the passing of former state lawmaker and longtime Palatine Township Supervisor David Regner this week sparked state Rep. David McSweeney to share one of his first experiences with Springfield: Serving as a page for Regner at the Capitol when the now-Barrington Hills Republican was around 10 years old.
Pages are tasked with all kinds of things, including bringing food to lawmakers stuck voting on the floor for long periods of time.
"I certainly admired the work that he did," McSweeney said.
Regner's visitation is today.
Now, to recap
Next week, I'll use the column to recap the year in suburban politics and government.
So if there's anything you think deserves special mention, I'd love to hear it.
You can tweet at me at @DHStatehouse or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.