Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn wants his tax plan put into action right after the Nov. 4 election, echoing his key campaign argument that the state can't afford to let income taxes drop at the end of the year.
Quinn has called for keeping the state's 2011 income tax hike intact instead of letting it lower on Jan. 1 as scheduled. Without the money from the higher income tax rate, he says, the state faces serious cuts to schools and a growing pile of unpaid bills.
"I'm going to win this election, again, with truth-telling," he said.
Quinn met with members of the Daily Herald editorial board today for a wide-ranging discussion about the issues facing Illinois and his plans to deal with them. Republican businessman Bruce Rauner, Quinn's challenger, will be in Arlington Heights for his turn with the Daily Herald editorial board Friday.
Quinn said he wants a vote on the income tax in the weeks after Election Day, before the next governor and new set of lawmakers are sworn in.
That's how the 2011 income tax hike was approved, hours before the new legislature was set to be sworn in and with the support of several Democratic lawmakers who had lost the November election and had promised not to raise taxes.
Quinn says his re-election will demonstrate to lawmakers that his plan is the right one.
"It's going to happen in 2014, in November and December," he said of his tax plans. New lawmakers take their seats in January.
"They're going to have to take a look at what I proposed and realize that that's the best way to go," he said.
This spring, Quinn did not win support for his plan to keep the state's income tax rate, now 5 percent, from dropping to 3.75 percent as scheduled. He says, though, his ideas for the long financially challenged state are more thorough than Rauner's plans, which he says often leave out specifics.
"Where's the substance?" Quinn said. "Where's the beef?"
The two candidates will continue to duel over taxes and the economy until Election Day in the suburbs, where the preferences of independent voters could decide who is Illinois' next governor.
"Despite bipartisan opposition to another round of Quinn tax hikes, the governor just sent a message loud and clear to suburban voters: Pat Quinn is obsessed with raising your taxes," Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said after the meeting.
Quinn touted his successes to the editorial board, pointing to a massive road and bridge construction program approved in 2009 that his predecessor Rod Blagojevich was unable to accomplish and the start of same-sex marriages in Illinois this year.
Quinn said he worked to round up lawmakers' votes to help approval for same-sex marriage and referred to the 2012 movie "Lincoln" in which the 16th president had to round up votes to outlaw slavery.
"I had to get a lot of legislators counseled to vote 'yes' on that bill," Quinn said
"I saw Abraham Lincoln, and he was counseling legislators back then to pass the 13th Amendment," he said. "So you learn by, I guess, looking after Lincoln."
Whoever wins in November could have to confront a new move in the ongoing effort to change how the state hands out money for schools.
It's intended to steer more of the pot of money toward poorer schools, but suburban school officials and lawmakers have raised the alarm that their districts could lose millions of dollars per year.
Quinn said he's open to reviewing the idea but wants to focus on making sure the state puts enough money into schools overall, which he says can only be accomplished by keeping income tax rates where they are.
Rauner favors letting the state income tax rate drop over four years.
"I think you have to have the amount put into education be proper," Quinn said.