Finally, some fiscal responsibility will come out of Illinois and its Democratic Party.
On Monday, the Illinois State Senate and House proposed $1.2 billion worth of cuts to the state budget after Governor Pat Quinn’s proposal to increase the state income tax by 33% failed to garner popular support from lawmakers or constituents. The tax hike was one of several possible solutions to fixing a $13 billion budget gap before the preferred May 31st deadline. In doing so, the Democratic coalition, led in part by Taxpayer Protection Pledge signer Susan Garrett (S-29), took a stand in stopping the errant expansion of the Illinois government.
The coalition also proposed reviewing certain state contracts, rather than allowing them to automatically renew when the fiscal year begins on July 1st.
Included in the cuts are $400 million from education, $300 million to the state bureaucracy, and $100 million from health care for state retirees, in what is being called a “tough-love exercise” by Rep. Karen May (D-58). Illinois is last in the nation, as 92% of their state retirees do not pay health insurance premiums, a statistic this budget cut would certainly amend.
By keeping its income tax low, Illinois will keep its economic competitive advantage against other states. This is so significant in a state that ranks 48th in economic performance, where raising the income tax would only worsen its prospects. Other than the 9 states which either have no income tax or only tax dividends in interest, Illinois has the best income tax rate in the nation, a 3% flat income tax rate.
If the legislature does, in fact, manage to avoid raising taxes to fill its budget gap, it would still not be enough to redeem itself from its 2009 600% tax hike on seemingly mundane items like shampoo, toothpaste, and candy, in addition to an increase in the state’s alcohol tax. This, and other tax hikes, led to the legislature being ranked 48th for tax changes in 2008 & 2009 by the American Legislative Exchange Council.
However, even while Gov. Quinn has dropped his income tax hike plan, he continues to push for an increase in the state’s cigarette tax and has not yet backed down from his plan to borrow money in order to fund the state’s government pension fund. Noting this, as well as Gov. Quinn’s past failed policies, it is highly recommended that Illinois citizens look at ATR’s list of Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers at the state level, as Quinn’s adversary this upcoming November, Bill Brady, has put his anti-tax hike promise in writing.