Illinois Policy Institute proposes a fix to the state budget impasse: Proposal offers property tax relief, pension reform and a balanced state budget that does not raise taxes

January 31, 2017

The Institute’s solution to the budget impasse features comprehensive property tax reform, constitutional pension reform, spending reform and reduced government waste.

SPRINGFIELD (Jan. 31, 2017) – Today, the Illinois Policy Institute introduced a budget reform plan that balances the state budget and closes Illinois’ projected $7.1 billion budget deficit without a tax increase. The plan offers struggling homeowners property tax relief, and reforms pensions in a way that complies with the Illinois Constitution. It calls for changes to state government that will put Illinois on a better economic path, including right-sizing state worker benefits and reprioritizing higher education spending.

The plan was released at press conferences in Springfield and Chicago on Tuesday morning. In Chicago, CEO John Tillman was joined by state Reps. Jeanne Ives and Allen Skillicorn and in Springfield, the Institute’s Vice President of Policy presented the proposal, which is titled “Budget Solutions 2018.”

“Politicians have not earned the right to ask Illinoisans for more money,” Illinois Policy Institute CEO John Tillman said. “Our plan, unlike every other budget plan being discussed, ensures that taxpayers are respected and treated fairly instead of being treated like an ATM machine to pay for the past mistakes of elected officials.”

Illinois Policy Institute’s budget proposal calls for reforms in five major policy areas, including:

  • Comprehensive property tax reform: $3.4 billion in savings
  • Ending Illinois’ pension crisis through self-managed plans: $1.65 billion less than baseline
  • Aligning AFSCME costs with what taxpayers can afford: $1.1 billion in savings
  • Streamlining Medicaid spending: $415 million in savings
  • Higher education reform that prioritizes students over administrators: $500 million in savings

Illinois lawmakers raised the personal income tax in 2011. The tax increase, which was enacted under former Gov. Pat Quinn and partially sunset at the end of 2014, was sold as a way to strengthen Illinois’ economy and pay down the state’s backlog bills. Despite generating an additional $31 billion in revenue for state government, that tax increase failed to fix the state’s economy or erase the backlog of bills. Instead, Illinois was thrust into an even deeper economic hole, the state’s pension debt increased by more than $20 billion over that period, businesses fled the state and so did hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents.

Illinoisans now pay the highest property taxes in the nation, while facing one of the worst economic recoveries and one of the worst economic climates. This budget proposal not only provides immediate relief for taxpayers through a five-year property tax freeze, but is also a comprehensive plan to put the state on a better economic path going forward by enacting long-overdue spending reform.

“The last few years have proved Illinois can’t tax itself out of its perpetual fiscal crisis. The state is now running out of time, options and people,” Illinois Policy Institute Vice President of Policy Ted Dabrowski said. “Tax increases didn’t work before, and they will not work this time. Budget Solutions 2018 offers a new path forward – one that will actually fix Illinois’ problems once and for all.”

The Illinois Policy Institute’s budget proposal “Budget Solutions 2018” is available here:

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