Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I guess I’m with the 27 percent

As if the campaign season hasn’t been nasty enough (with just under eight months remaining), we’re going to have to rehash the ugliness of the “67 percent tax hike” that state officials allegedly imposed on us a couple of years ago.

QUINN: What will he propose?
Remember how the income tax got a boost from 3 percent to 5 percent back in 2011 (for individuals, corporate income taxes went from 4.8 percent to 7 percent), with the Illinois Legislature telling us it was just a temporary measure.

LANGUAGE WAS WRITTEN into the law that say it expires after the end date – which happens to be the end of this year. We all get to see that tax hike go away, and the income tax revert back to what it was.

Except that I don’t know of anyone who was that naïve. We’ll get a better idea where the governor stands when he presents us a budget proposal on Wednesday.

We all know better that these things have a knack of becoming relied upon to the point where some serious damage would be done to state government if we were to let that revenue disappear.

It’s not really a “67 percent tax hike” (it’s a 2 percent tax hike that produces 67 percent more revenue). If that money withers away into the political ionosphere, then our public officials are going to have to spend this election year that also is a legislative cycle devising a way to replace it.

WHICH WOULD MEAN some sort of significant tax increase, or a tax on something new. That would be even more complex.

Which is why I accept that the easiest way of handling this situation is to merely make permanent that which is already being paid. I accepted it years ago when the measure was approved and signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn that it would happen.

Anybody with common sense knew that, no matter how much we thought it stunk.

EVANS: Being practical?
So to hear people now complaining that we’re going to get hit with the massive increase? I want to tell them to “Shaddap!” “Quit yer whinin’!” Along with a couple of other choice expletives best not repeated in mixed company.

IT IS WHY I’m not going to take seriously the ideologues who will spend the next few months trying to get the electorate all worked up into pressuring legislators, for once, to do nothing.

Because if nothing is done, the funding goes away with the tax.

It is the reason why I’m not all that swayed by the poll released Monday by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute that says 60 percent of those surveyed want the 2-percent income tax increase to go away.

Only 27 percent are willing to say they think it should be kept in place. Which may mean that only 27 percent of the public (or at least those who got surveyed by the Southern Illinois University-based institute) is being realistic.

I REALLY SEE this as a matter of practicality. It is why I respect someone like state Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago, who has said he supports a hike – even though he doesn’t know how large it will be or what form it will take.

People who seriously want to say that the income tax should shrivel back ought to have to suggest where the replacement revenue comes from. And I’m not all that interested in those who want to think everything can be cut.

Or at least everything that they have ideological hang-ups about – which is what this tax-cutting talk usually amounts to.

This is an instance where the responsible thing to do is to maintain what has become the status quo.

BECAUSE THERE’S ALSO the fact that even with this revenue kept in place, there are going to have to be some votes by our legislators to find additional revenues for our state government structure.

Try eliminating the additional income tax revenue, and that creates even larger increases that will have to be found elsewhere.

It’s a headache, but not one that can be resolved by those people whose idea of a “pill” is a knee-jerk “no.!” Which is something I’d like to think even Paul Simon, if he were still amongst us, would realize – and vote accordingly.


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