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SPRINGFIELD — Defying Gov. Bruce Rauner and his millions in campaign funds, more than a dozen Illinois House Republicans Sunday night voted for a permanent increase in the individual Illinois income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent.

The corporate income-tax rate also will increase, from 5.25 percent to 7 percent.

The vote was 72-45, a veto-proof majority if the vote holds after a promised Rauner veto.

Moments later, the House approved a companion budget bill, 81-34.

The Senate still must vote on the $5 billion income-tax increase, perhaps as early as today, but Democrats hold a greater majority in the Legislature's upper chamber, and it is expected to pass with less drama than the House's more than two hours of debate that included shouting, jeering and some tears.

One preliminary estimate said that the tax increase would cost the typical married couple with two children who have an adjusted gross income of $100,000 a year and pay $5,000 in property taxes about $1,100 more annually.

Once it is approved, the tax increase would be retroactive to July 1.

Area representatives split on the tax increase, with support from Democrat Carol Ammons of Urbana along with three of the 15 House Republicans who voted yes: Chad Hays of Catlin, Bill Mitchell of Forsyth and Reggie Phillips of Charleston.

Voting no were Republicans Tom Bennett of Gibson City, Dan Brady of Bloomington and Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville.

"We're in a state that in the fiscal year that ended two days ago spent $40 billion on less than $32 billion of revenue. There's nothing Republican about that," Hays said. "We have $15 billion in back bills. I've been to a lot of Republican events in my life, and I've never, ever been in a roomful of Republicans who said, 'My philosophy on paying bills is to stiff the vendor.'"

Hays said the threat of seeing the state's credit rating plunge to junk-bond status, plus almost $15 billion in unpaid bills, were factors that influenced his vote for a tax increase.

"This isn't easy. The negotiations took place over three years of spring sessions. I stood tough for a long, long time, but we're about to shut down road projects, and we're accruing interest on back bills at a rate that is staggering," he said. "This isn't something that I've ever done before, but there comes a time when you have to move forward."

Phillips, whose district includes Eastern Illinois University, said he voted in his district's best interest.

Noting that he owns a business with almost 1,000 employees and sympathizes with opponents of the tax increase, Phillips added, "I'm excited and happy to stand here in some way to say 'I'd like to save my university, I'd like to save my town.'

"Although it's against some of the principles I came here for, I am going to vote for this bill. It's not the best bill, but it's the best bill we've got at hand, and if it saves my school, I'm going to be for it."

Another Republican who represents a university area, Rep. Terri Bryant of Murphysboro, began crying during her speech as she explained her yes vote.

"I hate tax increases, hate them, and it will hurt small business to do this, but I also think it hurts small business when you ask them to do business with the state and then you don't pay them," she said. "We must have a balanced budget, and if that means that we must increase taxes right now to do it, I, like one of my other colleagues, know I'm probably going to get primaried on this," she said, referring to the possibility of losing her seat in the next primary election.

"Do I want to raise taxes? Absolutely not. Do I think it's the right thing to do down the road? Absolutely not. But I want you to remember what we're doing here today. We're paying the bills for our bad behavior, even before I came here."

But several Republicans noted that the income-tax increase didn't include any property-tax relief, pension changes, workers'-compensation reforms or other pieces of Rauner's "Turnaround Agenda," although state Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said negotiations on those issues would continue.

"There's no relief here. There's no reform here for a bloated state government. There's no cleaning up our corrupt politics," said Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard. "There's no sign that anything is going to change in Springfield."

And Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, said, "The Illinois economy is too weak for a tax hike," and legislators "need to fix our job-creation problem first."

Columnist

Tom Kacich is a columnist and the author of Tom's Mailbag at The News-Gazette. His column appears Sundays. His email is tkacich@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@tkacich).

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