By Greg Bishop
The first vote next month of the new Illinois House could determine who will be the next Speaker of the House, and in turn, if there is a new push for more tax increases.
State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, said only two candidates came before the House Legislative Black Caucus over the weekend: Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego.
The candidates addressed the caucus on how to advance issues important to the Black community. They also discussed the state’s finances.
“There was one candidate that had a vision for making sure that Illinois had the revenue in order to deal with the most pressing issues, human services and education and not make cuts in areas that’s important to the most vulnerable,” Ford said.
Madigan had the plan; Kifiwoit wasn’t as committed, Ford said. Caucus leaders are deliberating over who will get their endorsement, he said.
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said tax increases won’t work and would punish small businesses, which are already struggling during the pandemic.
“And if that is the Democrats’ plan to solve problems, it didn’t work the last two times that they raised income taxes, it just didn’t work because they refused to stop spending above and beyond what we bring in,” Durkin said.
Ford said Republicans can be critical, but they should offer up solutions.
“Everyone has a right to make their comments, but taxpayers look for solutions and not just people to say ‘no,’” Ford said.
Durkin said with the rejection of the progressive income tax amendment in November, taxpayers have spoken.
“And those are Democrats, independents and Republicans who have had it, who are frustrated and mad as heck that Springfield is continuing to pick their pocket because of their careless and reckless decisions with state money,” Durkin said.
Durkin wasn’t invited to the Black Caucus event, but said he needs just 15 reform-minded Democrats to join with the GOP caucus for him to be the speaker.
Around 19 Democrats have publicly said they won’t support Madigan for another term. Excluding all Republicans, that puts Madigan at fewer than the 60 votes needed for another term as Speaker.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday he’s focused more on cuts in spending and “has not yet heard back from leaders about what they’re best proposals are.”
Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.