Gov. Pat Quinn and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan are on a collision course.
The two Chicago Democrats appear to agree on making jobs a priority for this year, but that's not exactly what's happening.
Quinn brought his State of the State speech on Wednesday. He talked about appointing someone to advise him on how to improve the jobs climate. He also wants to reduce the $500 filing fee that's required to create a limited liability company. Quinn suggests a $39 fee, which would be one of the lowest in the nation, to help small business.
Madigan made his own pro-jobs proposal on Thursday, calling for the state to cut the state income tax on corporations in half. That 3.5 percent tax rate would amount to a $1.5 billion annual savings for Illinois businesses.
To the casual observer, it might look like both men are pulling in the same direction. They're not.
Quinn is supposed to bring his budget address next month. And he's going to need that $1.5 billion to tackle his "birth to five" education proposal and other initiatives. In fact, it has long been expected that Quinn would like to see the income tax increases of 2011 retained. Allowing the taxes -- both personal and business income taxes -- to roll back at the end of the year would cost the state about $5 billion a year.
For decades, Quinn has burnished his reputation as a champion for the little guy. He helped form the Citizens Utility Board long ago. In recent years, he led the campaign to increase income tax breaks for low-wage earners and he wants to double that tax break again this year.
Quinn sees cutting the limited liability company fee as a help for small businesses and business startups. He's more likely to see a reduced income tax on businesses as a give-away to large corporations, which are not part of his political base.
Madigan's move also has some people scratching their heads. Not that long ago, Madigan complained that some companies "don't pay their fair share" of taxes. To be fair, Madigan said that at a time when the state was considering some special deals with individual employers that wanted concessions to either stay in Illinois or locate here.
It's possible that Madigan is seeking positive headlines and a positive vote for Democratic lawmakers. Republicans would almost certainly vote for the tax cut, so there could be a lopsided victory in the statehouse.
Then the focus would move to the governor's office. Quinn has several reasons, mentioned above, to veto the legislation. That could paint his as someone who is at odds with other Democratic officeholders.
Another scenario would have the House supporting the bill before the Senate voted on a slightly different version. Madigan could then cling to the House wording and say the Senate should take up the original bill. Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, then might be expected to say the House should accept the Senate wording.
In that situation, the Democrats in the Legislature would get their positive headlines and Quinn would be frozen out of the process.
In either case, it looks like Madigan and Quinn are at odds with each other.