Austerity (For You, Not Them)

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This morning, Illinois lawmakers gave new meaning to the term “ramming through legislation” as they stayed up past their bedtime to stick the state’s residents with a 67 percent increase in personal income tax and a 46 percent increase in business income taxes. And remember – this was their concession! They wanted a 75 percent increase! Many of them are no longer in office as I write this.

“Our house was burning,” [Governor Pat] Quinn said. “Our fiscal house was burning.”

True statement, Governor. Of course, for a good chunk of the last decade, you and your friends have been standing next to said house pouring on cans of gasoline, but I digress. The fiscal situation is undoubtedly dire – Daniel Mitchell bluntly says we are the worst state in the union based on the cost to insure our debt. The state needs to fill a budget gap of $15 billion.

So that bumps the personal income tax rate up from 3 percent to 5 percent. And you know what? I’d take that medicine – the quickest way to close that gap would be to slash spending and bump up revenue via a tax increase. Let’s do it in one-motion, like a Band-Aid. It’ll be the best for the long run. After all, the pain is going to be spread around, because we’re all going to pull in the same direction – we’ll be seeing cuts in state programs like…..wait a minute….

The bill, falsely advertised as fiscal discipline, is “designed to increase spending,” thundered Rep. Jack Franks of Woodstock, one of a few outlier Democrats to vote against the bill. “This legislation will merely continue to feed the beast.”

What?! There aren’t any cuts?! I hate to bust out the owl twice in the span of three posts, but

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That’s right. Instead of cuts, there’s a “cap” that would enforce 2 percent growth (!) in the coming years. I think I need to double-down with a Dawson

 

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Who in God’s name would move a business to this state right now? Actually, forget new businesses, the focus should be on keeping the ones we have – Wisconsin and Indiana smell blood:

Governors of some neighboring states quickly jumped on the issue. Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who took office last week and has already proposed a tax cut for businesses that move to Wisconsin from other states, invited companies to head north.

“Years ago Wisconsin had a tourism advertising campaign targeted to Illinois with the motto, ‘Escape to Wisconsin,'” Walker said Wednesday in a statement. “Today we renew that call to Illinois businesses, ‘Escape to Wisconsin.’ You are welcome here.”

Quinn scoffed at the notion. “Lots of luck to them, but that’s not going to happen.”

Not going to happen? I’d chalk that up to the “loss” column and focus on trying to keep residents here. Hey, maybe you won’t be seeing an exodus from Chicago, but if someone owns a business in, say, Danville or Peoria or the Quad Cities, are you telling me they aren’t eyeing the state line? But don’t listen to me. Listen to Richard Daley:

Mayor Richard Daley today predicted the increase in the corporate income tax rate passed by state lawmakers overnight will prompt a quiet exodus of jobs to neighboring states.

“Businesses don’t have press conferences like this and announce they’re moving 50 people out, 60 people out, 70 people,” Daley said.

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