Embattled House Speaker Michael Madigan isn’t known for misreading election results; nobody denies his political cunning.
But he sure seems to have missed the memo about Illinoisans wanting reforms instead of taxes. They sent that message loud and clear by decisively defeating the proposal to authorize progressive tax increases at the ballot box last month.
Madigan said it’s “very possible” that Gov. J.B. Pritzker could get the legislature to raise the state’s flat income-tax rate according the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’m prepared to vote for that, presuming it’s the governor’s request,” Madigan said. He (Madigan) can provide the “strong leadership” to get it done, he said.
Republicans, of course, jumped on Madigan for that, but what’s interesting is that it might make his bid to retain his position as House speaker more difficult. Some House Democrats, whose votes he needs, surely did get that memo about reform instead of taxes. As Greg Hinz at Crain’s put it, “the tax question could make it even harder for some reluctant Democrats to vote to re-elect Madigan as House speaker when they convene early in January.”
Pritzker, too, appears nervous about an income tax increase. When asked about Madigan’s comments, according to Crain’s, Pritzker said, “What I can say is, I’m focused on the (spending) cuts that have to be made,” not on tax increases. “I’ve asked Democratic and Republican leaders for their best ideas” on how to make state government operate more efficiently.”
On the other hand, maybe that’s underestimating the power of public unions, which Madigan is smart enough to keep happy. They want tax increases, not spending cuts, and it’s their influence that Madigan has most effectively wielded throughout his tenure.