The resolution asks voters whether incomes over $1 million should be taxed with a 3 percent surcharge. It comes as Quinn is locked in a hotly contested gubernatorial race with multimillionaire businessman Bruce Rauner, a Republican.
"It's very important that our state put its money where its mouth is when it comes to education," the Democrat said at a bill-signing event in the Chicago suburb of Berwyn. "We need to get more resources to help our students learn,"
House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, proposed the idea as a way to raise revenue, saying it could bring in $1 billion a year for education — about $550 more per student.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, Illinois had 14,692 tax returns in 2011 from households where adjusted gross income was $1 million or more. Collectively, their income was $42.7 billion.
Illinois has 4.8 percent of the nation's millionaires, according to an analysis of IRS figures, and ranks fifth in the number of wealthy residents behind California, New York, Texas and Florida.
Madigan — a lawyer who said he earns more than $1 million "in a good year" — had wanted the idea proposed as a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. But he could not get the 71-vote supermajority in the House needed to put the amendment before voters.
The non-binding question would give the idea momentum in the Legislature next year, proponents say. Critics claim it is simply a way to drive Democrats to the polls in the governor's race.
The measure will be among several poll-style questions on the November ballot, including one asking voters ifIllinois should raise the minimum wage. State election officials certify ballots next month.
The bill is HB3816.