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What should we expect now from General Assembly?

Updated: December 21, 2012 6:12AM

What should we now expect from the Ill. General Assembly?

Illinois has an antiquated tax system caused by a failure of revenues to keep up with the rising costs of services. Fixing the revenue problems would help Illinois balance its budget.

Behind the resistance to raise revenue is the Civic Committee of Chicago, which is made up of 36 of Illinois’ largest corporations. It has resorted to constant threats of reckless, unconstitutional “pension reform” for public workers. Why would the Civic Committee want to propagandize that public workers are to blame for Illinois’ deficit and be against closing tax loopholes and not allowing tax breaks and incentives to corporations? The money the Civic Committee can take from public workers’ benefits can be used to fund corporation’s tax breaks, tax incentives and loopholes. That’s the answer.

Most Illinois legislators say they will oppose raising taxes to balance the state’s budget. That means that they will not raise taxes — especially for the wealthy 1 percent that bankrolled them — for the guarantee of continued campaign funding and re-election.

Recently, many legislators approved a financial windfall for a few Illinois corporations.  During the first six months of this year, $168 million in corporate tax breaks went to UAL, CME stockbrokers, the Museum of Broadcast History, Boeing and others. Remember, each tax break means less money to run the state government. But who will pay? You, the taxpayer, will pay — and if not you, it will be the public workers.

While the corporations received these healthy tax breaks, there was not one word of generating much-needed revenue with the passage of a fair, progressive tax on income that allows for the wealthy to pay their fair share.

Without a fiscal system overhaul that will generate revenue for Illinois to properly maintain state services and pay state expenditures for health and social services, education, government, transportation, capital outlay, public protection, justice and, most importantly, the state’s debt, the state of Illinois will be going over the “fiscal cliff.”

Legislators could and should focus on closing tax loopholes, tax breaks and amending the Constitution for a progressive income tax in this session. Illinois is one of seven states in our country that does not have a progressive income tax — we still have a regressive flat rate tax on income (everyone pays the same rate).

By the way, the answer to the question posed in the headline is to ram a bill through on “pension reform” and “let the courts decide” — House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Joni Lindgren


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