On Sunday, Democratic gubernatorial challenger Dan Hynes released the following web ad that hits Gov. Pat Quinn for "refus[ing] to propose a real progressive income tax in Illinois." The spot is meant to highlight Hynes' alternative plan, which seeks to amend the state ...
On Sunday, Democratic gubernatorial challenger Dan Hynes released the following web ad that hits Gov. Pat Quinn for "refus[ing] to propose a real progressive income tax in Illinois." The spot is meant to highlight Hynes' alternative plan, which seeks to amend the state constitution to raise income taxes only on those making more than $200,000 (we currently have a constitutionally-mandated flat rate). Watch it (via Capitol Fax):
You'll notice that halfway through the spot, the Hynes campaign uses an extremely brief clip from Quinn's appearance before the Rockford Register Star's editorial board in April. You can hear one of the board members pointing out that, under his initial budget plan, every Illinois single person or couple with only one child would see their taxes rise. Quinn is seen nodding before the clip ends.
That ten-second clip came from an hour-long interview, which you can view in full here. It's not surprising that the Hynes camp would selectively use the footage of his "nod" for their own narrow purposes. It's no different really than Quinn's use of a six-year-old Kane County Chronicle article on Hynes' opposition at the time to a progressive income tax. But Quinn's full response is actually worth watching as a reminder of his mindset going into the budget negotiations last spring. Indeed, the governor went on to tell the board that he "thinks we should have a graduated income tax," but added that, "I have to, within the parameters of the constitution of Illinois, try to find a progressive way to raise revenue." Watch it:
As Hynes whacks Quinn for failing to consider a progressive income tax, it's important to remember that no one -- not the most progressive lawmakers, not the most left-leaning advocates, and certainly not Hynes -- were pushing such a graduated tax structure as a solution to the state's budget woes last spring. It simply wasn't on the table.
There are two reasons for this. First, attempts to get a constitutional amendment out of the General Assembly and before voters in November had failed in the spring of 2008. That defeat was certainly fresh in the minds of many in Springfield. Second, because constitutional amendments require the approval of voters, such a plan would have meant asking everyone to wait until November 2010 to find out if voters would sign off on it. Considering the urgency of the fiscal crisis, that would have been viewed as a huge -- and irresponsible -- gamble.
From his current vantage point, it's easy for Hynes to criticize Quinn's actions in early 2009 as unimaginative or cowardly. But we have to remember the context in which they took place.
Full Disclosure: The SEIU Illinois State Council, whichsponsors this website, has endorsed Pat Quinn in the Democratic primaryfor governor.