With the state's finances in a tailspin, there are rumblings that members of the General Assembly's Latino Caucus are planning to revive tax hike legislation withing a matter of weeks.
With the state's finances in a tailspin, there's no shortage of criticism over the General Assembly's failure to effectively press for new revenue, particularly in the House. As regular readers know all too well, the Senate made headway last spring when it passed Sen. James Meeks' (D-Chicago) tax reform proposal (HB 174), which would raise the income tax rate in order to fund core services like education while offsetting the tax burden for low- and moderate- income families. Despite passing out of House committee last May, Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) declined to call the proposal to the floor for a vote. In the ten months since, the state's budget deficit has only continued to grow.
Now there are rumbling that members of the Latino Caucus are hoping to revive the measure in a matter of weeks. During a meeting with State Rep. Luis Arroyo and members of the Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC) yesterday, the Chicago Democrat confirmed that the caucus is preparing to take action on tax reform. Maria Pesqueria, executive director of Mujeres Latinas en Accion, corroborated the news following the meeting. Watch:
Exactly which of the caucus members are planning to take the lead is unclear. What's certain is that one of the group's key leaders, Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora), has been working to fine-tune the proposal with the intention of reintroducing it this session. At this point, there's still work to be done in getting three members of the caucus -- Reps. Arroyo, Deb Mell (D-Chicago), and Fred Crespo (D-Streamwood) -- on board with the bill. But after yesterday's meeting, RBC's Gonzalo Escobar-Leven said that it appears Arroyo "is getting closer to supporting the bill." He added that, with a May 31 deadline looming to solidify next year's budget, the clock is ticking on getting the bill introduced.
We caught up with Dave Lopez who lobbies in Springfield on behalf of the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (an RBC member) and he confirmed that members of the caucus are indeed in talks about taking the lead on tax reform. Facing "huge service cuts across the board, beginning with education," Lopez said, some caucus members are certainly feeling the pressure to come up with new revenue -- and fast. "They basically, like many other people, see revenue as necessary. But the question is ,'When will it be approved?'"