The biggest issue in Illinois is building to a volcanic crescendo. That issue is the state budget. As everyone knows, there has been a deadlock on the budget since Bruce Rauner was elected governor. The pressure to pass a budget has become so great that Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R) and Senate Majority Leader John Cullerton (D) met to devise a “Grand Bargain.” The plan consisted of 13 separate bills that were heavy on revenue increases in the form of tax increases and borrowing, and light in spending cuts and reforms. The public outcry was so great that the planned votes were tabled until new bills could be created to be voted on the week of February 7th.
In the meantime, the credit agencies have responded to our budget impasse with yet another downgrade of our credit rating. This means that borrowing for the state is more expensive than it was when the “Grand Bargain” was formulated. Even if every provision of all 13 bills could be passed, the “Grand Bargain” as constructed is not balanced. It loses money. Every Illinoisan knows that when times are tough, we need to cut back. We do it in our personal lives all the time. This is nothing new. Unfortunately, in the Twilight Zone that is Springfield, the thought of cutting spending is laughed at. We are told that any serious budget proposal must have a significant revenue component. We are told that this revenue is in the form of additional taxes and borrowing from our future. Growth is not a consideration. These budget schemes and perceptions are what have driven the exodus of citizens from our great state. There is a plan that can reverse this trend. There is a plan that can grow the tax base… a plan that can reduce the scope of government… keep pensions solvent AND hold to the state constitution… a plan that can balance the budget without raising taxes or going further into debt.
This past Tuesday, the Illinois Policy Institute released their plan: Budget Solutions 2018. The IPI budget proposal is a plan that really looks at the budget cost drivers, shows how out of line they are with our neighbors, and what can be done about them with the least impact on rendering services to Illinoisans. All of the news stories and op-ed columns recently have pushed the narrative that we have to accept that revenue (tax) increases will and must be part of any budget solution. We submit that this is a false narrative. One can look at the tax increases in 2010 under Governor Pat Quinn as the proof. The rates were slightly higher than what was proposed in the “Grand Bargain.” Did it balance the budget? No. Did it expedite the outward migration of our citizens and dwindle down the tax base? You bet it did. Will the “Grand Bargain” do the same? Without a doubt.
Raising taxes is the easiest thing for politicians to do. They know they have a captive audience that can’t lobby Springfield, while they can assure their donors that they will not need to make changes in their pet programs. We elect our representatives to make tough, adult decisions. The Illinois Policy Institute budget plan maps out these slightly tough, but decidedly adult decisions. Illinois Conservatives endorses this plan.