Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Edgar Tax Plan Advances, with Democrats' Help

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Edgar Tax Plan Advances, with Democrats' Help

Article excerpt

Gov. Jim Edgar's plan to hike income taxes, lower property taxes and bolster school funding passed a House committee Wednesday along partisan lines - with Edgar's own party lining up against him.

The full House is expected to vote on the plan today, where the bizarre political dynamics will continue.

Edgar, a Republican, has most of the House Democratic majority on his side. But he faces a frenzied opposition campaign from House Republican leader Lee Daniels, who has slammed the plan as the largest tax increase in Illinois history. If it passes the House, the plan still faces reluctant Republicans in the Senate, where the GOP holds the majority. "I think it will be very close" today, Edgar said. "This bill is the only viable option the members have. This is the best chance we have" to pass school funding reform. The House Revenue Committee passed the plan 6-5, with only the committee's Democrats supporting it. Edgar's plan would raise $1.5 billion with the tax increase and use $164 million more in existing revenue. It would earmark $614 million for schools, $900 million for property tax cuts and $150 million for related programs. Daniels has presented a plan that would do many of the same things but pay for it with a package of more limited taxes on riverboats, cigarettes and communications, along with money already in the state budget. If neither plan is approved, the Legislature would be faced with simply approving the proposed budget allocation for schools, which doesn't change the funding mechanism at all. House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said Democrats can put up about 45 of the 60 votes needed to pass the governor's plan. "If the governor does as he says he would try to do, then I think the bill has a good chance," he said. Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, a co-sponsor of the plan, said it had no more than six backers in the House GOP caucus. …

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