Editorial: Look for budget cuts, not increases to taxes
To be fair to Gov. Pat Quinn, there are a few palatable items in the state budget he proposed last week.
Raising the personal tax exemption to $6,000 is a nice idea, and changing the state’s pension system will reduce expenses. Compelling state employees to take four unpaid furlough days as well as pay more in health and retirement benefits could result in further savings.
Quinn also proposed nearly doubling the tax on cigarettes. If you don’t want to get hit with this tax, don’t smoke.
But facing an $11.6 billion shortfall, Quinn proposed increasing income taxes by 50 percent. The individual rate would leap to 4.5 percent from 3 percent, and the corporate income tax rate would rise to 7.2 percent from 4.8 percent.
There has been talk for years of increasing income taxes rather than relying so heavily on property taxes. Perhaps shifting some of the burden from property owners to income earners is a fairer way to fund state operations, but now isn’t the best time to try this.
Quinn said he wants to provide tax relief for low-income families and have those with greater means contribute more in taxes. Helping people in need is commendable, and the best ways for doing so vary across the political spectrum. But there are few people who can afford higher taxes in this economy.
Corporations are shedding jobs left and right. What’s going to happen when their income taxes jump 50 percent?
Legislators must scrutinize this budget further to see where more cuts can be made. Every government body wants to reach deeper into people’s pockets, and taxpayers simply don’t have enough money for that.
Suburban Life Publications