Perhaps coming to the understanding that the Second Annual Pat Quinn Income Tax Increase Proposal is no more popular than its predecessor, the Illinois Gov. Quinn is starting to diversify his portfolio of job-killing tax hikes.
Last week it was reported by the Illinois Policy Institute and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce that the Office of Management and Budget had recommended a variety of tax increases, including increases of up to $10 million on tobacco, $10 million on digital downloads, and $100 million on plastic grocery bags. It will be interesting to see which of these proposals Gov. Quinn folds into his existing plan to raise the income tax by one-third. Stop e-Taxes notes that Quinn has backpedaled from the digital download tax.
Polling from last year indicates that the voting public has little appetite for tax increases, preferring serious spending reductions and budgetary reform. In a letter to Gov. Quinn, ATR President Grover Norquist wrote:
In the midst of last year’s debate over your income tax proposal, a Zogby poll found that Illinoisans opposed an income tax hike 55-to-25. A sales tax increase was opposed 55-to-13, and a gasoline tax increase was opposed 63-to-27. The jig is up for the big government crowd: The public is fully aware that spending, not revenue, is the driver of Illinois’ budget woes.
To paraphrase Jack Kerouac, Gov. Quinn needs to stop getting all confused and hung-up running from one tax increase to another till he drops (in the polls, and ultimately out of office). Spending is the problem. The public knows it. It's time to, you know, govern instead of treating taxpayers as a Chicagoland slush fund.
For the record, I would point out that Quinn's opponent in his re-election bid this year, Bill Brady (R), has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, vowing to oppose any tax increases.
Grover's letter to Gov. Quinn is pasted below. For a PDF version, click here.
April 26, 2010
Dear Gov. Quinn:
With a staggering $13 billion budget crisis left unresolved in Springfield, you have consistently fought for higher taxes. After last year’s failed push to raise the income tax by 50 percent, you announced earlier this year a plan to raise the tax “only” 33 percent. Now, you are openly advocating an increase in taxes on tobacco and Internet downloads. Enough is enough – it is time for an honest, transparent discussion about Illinois’ out-of-control spending habit and how to reduce state government to a reasonable and sustainable size.
Tax increases are overwhelmingly unpopular in your state. In the midst of last year’s debate over your income tax proposal, a Zogby poll found that Illinoisans opposed an income tax hike 55-to-25. A sales tax increase was opposed 55-to-13, and a gasoline tax increase was opposed 63-to-27. The jig is up for the big government crowd: The public is fully aware that spending, not revenue, is the driver of the Illinois’ budget woes.
Your persistence suggests that either you are unaware of the strong public opposition to high taxes, or that you simply do not care.
Raising the tobacco tax is a particularly harmful idea, especially when attempting to close a budget gap. Because tobacco is a declining source of tax revenue (even more so after artificially increasing its price), it rarely raises the amount of money projected. New Jersey and Washington, D.C. notably saw a net decline in revenue after cigarette tax increases in recent years. And with Illinois’ unemployment rate at 11.5 percent, now is certainly not the time to raise taxes on retailers, for whom tobacco represents nearly one-third of sales nationwide.
Equally troubling are proposals to increase taxes on plastic bags and digital downloads. The price tag to taxpayers is up to $110 million. Rather than coming to terms with the culture of overspending that has plagued Illinois for decades, you choose to make it more expensive for families to go to the grocery store and browse the Internet. Rather than govern, you opt to raise taxes.
I urge you to start over, scrap the tax increases, and set about crafting a fiscally responsible budget that reduces government to a reasonable size. If ATR can be helpful in this endeavor, please contact me at [email protected] or state government affairs manager Joshua Culling at [email protected].
CC: House, Senate