House Speaker Michael Madigan's proposed "millionaire tax" amendment is now eligible for the death tax after two Democratic lawmakers announced they will not support it.
State Rep. Jack Franks and a second Democratic lawmaker said Wednesday they would vote against the proposed constitutional amendment, killing it. House Speaker Michael Madigan is withdrawing the amendment and will not bring it to a vote, his spokesman confirmed.
Madigan needed all 71 Democratic House votes, which is the exact three-fifths majority needed to advance a constitutional amendment, and finding two yes votes from the Republican minority would have been practically impossible for the powerful House speaker.
Franks, D-Marengo, said he told Madigan on Monday that he could not in good conscience support the amendment to impose a 3 percent tax on annual incomes greater than $1 million. He went public with the decision shortly after Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, did the same.
Franks had told the Northwest Herald in a March 21 interview that he was open to putting it on the ballot to let voters decide. But on Wednesday he cited Gov. Pat Quinn's budget address five days later, in which Quinn asked to make the temporary 67 percent tax increase permanent, as one of the catalysts to make him change his mind.
"With Governor Quinn, there's no taxation without misrepresentation," Franks said. "When [the millionaire tax] was presented initially, it was before the governor made clear his intention to make the tax hike permanent, or to create a property tax rebate that would in fact cost McHenry County families more."
But he also said he told Madigan that he felt the amendment was too much a political move. While Madigan said the tax would generate at least $1 billion a year for public education, critics called it a political move aimed at Republican gubernatorial candidate and self-made multimillionaire Bruce Rauner, Franks said he had heard the same concern from his constituents.
"I think people felt, like I did, that it was a political maneuver done to help a flailing governor," Franks said.
When asked how Madigan took it, Franks answered, "Not well."
Drury, a first-term member representing the north Chicago suburbs, said in a Wednesday news release that he could not support the amendment, despite language that would distribute the new revenue equally on a per-student basis.
"I stand with all Illinois residents and businesses who are looking for stability and fiscal responsibility, but I see only chaos," Drury said. "I strive to restore the public's trust in Illinois government and, under existing circumstances, voting for the proposed tax increase runs counter to that goal."
Franks echoed a similar sentiment.
"The real issue here is that this would help enable the governor to continue business as usual and continue tax policies that have choked off Illinois' recovery, and I will not allow that to happen," Franks said.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said that Madigan blames Republicans who won't support the idea because Republicans "prefer and protect millionaires over schoolchildren."
The millionaire tax is not the only proposed tax amendment that Franks could end up killing. He said he will under no circumstance support a proposed constitutional amendment changing the state income tax from a flat tax to a progressive tax based on income.
The flat tax was 3 percent of income for individuals until Democratic lawmakers in the last hours of session in January 2011 increased it 67 percent to 5 percent of income. The rate is supposed to decrease to 3.75 percent on Jan. 1, unless lawmakers extend it.
Franks faces an election challenger in November in Republican opponent Steven Reick of Harvard.