Illinois speaker eyes millionaire tax for school funding

CHICAGO, March 20 Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:05pm EDT

CHICAGO, March 20 (Reuters) - Illinois' powerful speaker of the House of Representative on Thursday unveiled a plan to slap millionaires in the state with a tax surcharge to raise $1 billion a year for schools.

Chicago Democrat Michael Madigan's plan surfaced just two days after voters in the Republican primary election chose multi-millionaire venture capitalist Bruce Rauner to face incumbent Democratic Governor Pat Quinn in the November general election.

A spokesman for Rauner's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under the speaker's plan, annual incomes topping $1 million would be taxed an additional 3 percent over the state's flat income tax rate, with the additional revenue distributed to schools on a per-pupil basis.

"This plan brings long overdue fairness to the state tax structure and provides a needed boost to education funding to help give our children more of the resources they need to succeed," Madigan said in a statement.

The proposed constitutional amendment would need approval from the Democrat-controlled House and Senate by May 5 in order to be placed on the ballot for the November general election, according to the statement.

Illinois' personal income tax rate, which was boosted to 5 percent in 2011, is scheduled to fall to 3.75 percent on Jan. 1 unless lawmakers take action to keep the higher rate in place. Quinn's fiscal 2015 budget presentation planned for next week is expected to include how the cash-strapped state will deal with the tax rate roll-back. (Reporting by Karen Pierog; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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