Civic Federation says Quinn's income tax proposal excessive
Gov. Pat Quinn probably needs to raise state income taxes to balance the state budget, but not as much as he has proposed, the Civic Federation concludes in an analysis of Quinn's budget proposal due to be released Monday.
The federation, whose members include business and professional leaders from the Chicago area, also said that it opposes the $26 billion capital budget and a temporary sales-tax holiday on clothing and supplies for school.
At the same time, the federation gave kudos to Quinn for suggesting changes to the five state-backed pension systems to reduce benefits for future employees and to increase the pension contribution required of employees, although Quinn dropped that proposal last week. The federal also endorsed extending the state sales tax to some products not currently taxed and to require four furlough days from state workers.
The 90-page report also included unsolicited suggestions from the federation for straightening out the state's budget mess. It determined that the state budget should be cut beyond the $1.3 billion in reductions suggested by Quinn, that the state's fee-for-service health insurance plan be eliminated because it is enormously costly and that the state consider taxing retirement income and also food and drugs.
The report harshly criticizes Quinn's plan to use money that should be devoted to paying down the state's pension debit for other purposes. The federation report called the idea "an irresponsible action that endangers the state's fiscal solvency." In fact, the report said that if an income tax is approved – albeit less than the 50 percent increase sought by Quinn – that it should be used to pay down the state's overdue bills and pension debt.
While Quinn has made approval of a capital plan a priority, the federation opposes it because nothing's been done to assess the state's capital needs and prioritize a list of projects. The report said that is an absolute must to ensure money isn't wasted.
The report also criticizes the capital plan because at this point no way to pay for it has been settled on.
Quinn's office did not respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.
Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 firstname.lastname@example.org.