Martwick challenger calls budget vote 'sad day for many lllinoisans'
Rep. Robert Martwick's (D-Chicago) vote for the House budget plan that includes a significant tax hike was reckless and contrary to the interests of his constituents, Ammie Kessem, who has announced a bid for Martwick's seat in 2018, said in a press release.
“This is a sad day for many Illinoisans,” Kessem, a Republican, said in the statement. “For months I have watched private citizens beg and plead with our legislators in Springfield, asking them for relief. I have watched numerous videos of Rep. Martwick talk about the budget along with the possibility of a tax increase and I continually watched him ignore the pleas of the people that he swore an oath to represent.”
According to the Illinois Policy Institute, the budget is the state's first in two years, but the institute and Kessem are harshly critical of it. The revenue portion includes a permanent 32 percent hike on the state personal income tax rate, which would jump to 4.95 percent from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent, and the corporate income tax rate, which would go to 7 percent from 5.25 percent.
“Illinois already has some of the highest taxes in the country, which would be great if we actually had something to show for it but the reality of the situation is that we don't,” Kessem said in her statement.
According to the institute, the plan does not include reforms to prevent continued increases in government spending, such as hoped-for changes in property taxes, pensions, collective bargaining and Medicaid. Further, the plan precludes any school spending if the school funding distribution formula is not transitioned to an evidence-based model.
“When all is said and done and the cloud of smoke has lifted, and the promises he made to special interest groups have wrecked such havoc on our communities to the point where they have forced many of us to our knees, the reality of the situation remains ... Rep. Martwick has failed us,” Kessem said in her statement. “He has failed the citizens that he took an oath to represent and he has broken their spirits.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the budget plan as promised, but the Senate and House later voted to overturn the veto.
Because the bills were voted on in a special session, they had already received a three-fifths vote in the House once. The revenue portion got 57 "yes"' votes from Democrats, including Martwick, and 15 from Republicans, many of whom are from Downstate districts that need state funding to maintain institutions like public universities. The final vote tally was 72-45, just one over the required 71 votes. The spending portion of the plan passed with a wider margin of 81-35.
After the first vote on the plan, Kessem cautioned Martwick that he will be accountable to voters in 2018.
“There is a reason why they are called districts, Mr. Representative,” Kessem said in her statement. “When you choose to ignore your constituents and instead vote along party lines with a career politician, (House Speaker) Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who has spent the last 34 years squeezing the tax paying citizens of every penny allowing for the hijacking and mismanagement of funds to fulfill promises to special interest groups, that is called failure. These politicians, and especially Rep. Martwick, need to be held accountable for their recklessness and I believe we will do just that come 2018!"