In defending his proposal to make Illinois' 2011 income tax increase permanent, Gov. Pat Quinn Friday called his Republican challenger Bruce Rauner's plan to let the tax lapse and slash the budget a "scheme."
Quinn argues Rauner can't promise to both stabilize the state's troubled budget and lower tax rates. Illinois needs the extra money to fix its budget woes, Quinn said.
"He basically has a scheme, and it's not an honest scheme," Quinn said.
The Democratic governor met with the Daily Herald editorial board Friday as he works to convince voters and lawmakers that large, looming cuts to schools and other services would be worse than keeping the state's 5 percent income tax rate from rolling back to 3.75 percent at the end of the year.
Pushing the larger tax as he seeks re-election is risky, but Quinn has blasted Rauner and other Republicans for not offering a similarly detailed proposal.
"Some people think you get elected by not saying anything substantive," Quinn said.
Rauner, though, has accused Quinn of being dishonest in seeking to extend a tax increase that originally was billed as temporary. Campaign workers even dressed a man up as the truth-challenged puppet Pinocchio -- in this case dubbed "Quinnocchio" -- and stationed him outside a Quinn event this week.
"Voters can't trust what Pat Quinn says," Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said. "He's broken too many promises."
Quinn spokesman Brooke Anderson pointed to the governor's comments when he signed the legislation in 2011, arguing he never promised it would be temporary.
"We will deal with this one day at time, one week, one month, one year at a time," Quinn said then. "I think our job now is to take what was passed last night and carry it out."
Quinn's plan has been embraced by the Democratic leaders of the Illinois House and Senate, but he still has to win votes from Democratic lawmakers who, particularly in the suburbs, could face tough re-election campaigns in the fall.
Quinn has echoed a longtime debate in Springfield to justify keeping the tax increase, arguing the money would help schools in Illinois be funded more equally.
When state funding is tight, suburban schools -- which often take in more property taxes -- fare better than those in poorer areas.
In an attempt to blunt high property tax bills, Quinn's budget, presented this week, offers all homeowners a $500 tax credit to go toward those bills. The move should provide a measure of relief to more than 90 percent of Illinois' households, his administration says.
The $500 break would replace one that already exists, but the change, if approved, would offer less relief to homeowners with higher bills. People who pay more than $10,000 in property taxes now would see a smaller credit under the plan.
"It gives the most relief to modest income homeowners who need help probably the most," Quinn said.