Monday, May 18, 2009

Balancing the Budget – The Hellinois Way

Guest post by Nick Primrose Twitter: @npwrites

As Illinois gets closer and closer to a vote on raising the income tax 50%, I can’t help but shake my head when I hear Governor Quinn, Speaker Mike Madigan, and Cook County President Todd Stroger use draconian budget tactics to scare citizens into supporting the tax hike. Much like what you will hear from Congress, the only way some politicians see to surviving these economic times is by raising revenue (i.e. raising taxes, higher fees/fines, and adopting new ‘sin’ taxes). Whenever you question this thought the immediate response is what we see today in Illinois, ‘doomsday’ budgets and draconian cuts.

Todd Stroger said the 1.75% county home-rule sales tax was responsible for keeping sick people in hospital beds and criminals off the streets, anything less would ruin this harmony. Governor Quinn released his ‘doomsday’ budget on May 18th citing massive teacher cuts, reducing funding for public transportation, and cutting countless other government services. All of these scare tactics seem to work too well, and most likely we’ll see the newly increased Cook County sales tax live on and a 50% income tax hike in Illinois.

I’m here to tell you that this is nothing but a smart political move on behalf of the Democrats, the one party that has consistently utilized this tool. In reality raising taxes only furthers the agendas of Stroger and Quinn by giving them more money to spend on non-essential government services.


How do I know this? I’ve read through the Illinois budgets from fiscal year 2008, 2009, and proposed 2010. In every one of those budgets there is countless amounts of wasteful spending, increased spending, and non-essential spending that could be cut to meet revenue. However year after year politicians in Chicago, Springfield, and Washington are allowed to spend because the typical citizen is oblivious to where the money is going. This is a perfect reason for further transparency in the budget process from Federal to local levels of government.

Chicago’s own Barack Obama is/was trying to create a new level of transparency by putting stimulus spending online, but he seems to have fallen short on that effort. Many state and local governments have seen savings by adopting transparency and accountability sites. Kansas, Texas, and Missouri have all created online databases for everyone to search spending. DuPage County in Illinois has seen success from their database and Cook County looks to adopt a similar check register soon.

When spending habits, checks written, and funds transferred are open to the public, then politicians start to reign in their spending. Politicians are held accountable for every dime that is spent whether it is $50 at an office supply store or thousands of dollars on travel. Last week, HB35 passed both houses to create an accountability portal in Illinois. This is a great step towards allowing citizens to act as a spending watch-dog in the state – but it is only the first step of many more towards fixing the corruption and out-of-control spending in Illinois and the Federal government.

Update: 5/19/09 9:15 AM See what Laffer and Moore say about Quinn in the Wall Street Journal

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