The latest budget proposal for Illinois: A no-tax-hike plan

Ted Dabrowski

Vice President of Policy

Ted Dabrowski

Craig Lesner

Budget and Tax Research Director

Craig Lesner
April 8, 2017

The latest budget proposal for Illinois: A no-tax-hike plan

The Taxpayer Bargain finally shifts the budget conversation in favor of taxpayers over politicians, with a plan that balances the state budget without tax hikes.

A new budget plan released by two Illinois senators proposes to solve the state’s budget crisis without hiking taxes on Illinoisans.

State Sens. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, and Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, released a plan April 4 called the “Taxpayer Bargain,” which relies on spending reforms to close the current budget gap. The Taxpayer Bargain calls for a balanced budget and a spending cap with no new taxes or tax increases.

Spending reforms through a no-tax-hike budget is what Illinoisans need and want. Recent polls find most Illinoisans oppose tax hikes, preferring spending reforms instead.

McCarter and McConchie’s plan is in stark contrast to the most recent “Grand Bargain” proposal from Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and Senate Minority leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, which calls for $5 billion to $7 billion tax hikes and fees. The Grand Bargain plan is no more than a taxpayer bailout of Springfield’s failures.

Going against the tax hike narrative

McCarter and McConchie’s Taxpayer Bargain challenges the narrative that Illinois’ problems can only be fixed with multibillion-dollar tax hikes. McCarter said he refuses to punish taxpayers for what legislatures have done in the past, and instead plans to reward taxpayers with “a balanced budget that provides real-spending reductions.”

Several of the senators’ proposed reforms align closely with the Illinois Policy Institute’s 2018 Budget Solutions – including a pension cost shift, a property tax freeze and a reduction in higher education spending. But what’s most important is that they’ve provided another no-tax-hike solution that respects taxpayers.

Details and scoring of the plan have yet to be released, but according to the senators, their reforms end the General Assembly’s two-year fight to close the state’s budget gap.

Illinoisans don’t want tax hikes

The Taxpayer Bargain recognizes the need to reform spending first. It’s also the first legislative budget to pay attention to taxpayers.

Eighty percent of Illinoisans surveyed in a recent poll supported spending cuts to balance the state budget; more than half of Illinoisans said spending cuts should be the only tool used to close the budget deficit.

Seventy percent also said property taxes are too high and yet another 60 percent of Illinoisans surveyed ranked state income taxes as too high.

That poll echoes a recent poll by the Paul Simon Institute that found “taxes are the single biggest reason people want to leave, the weather is next, followed by government and jobs.”

Illinoisans need relief.

It’s encouraging to see that some lawmakers are following the lead of the Institute in calling out for a no-tax-hike budget plan.

The Institute’s plan lays the groundwork for real government spending reform through a property tax freeze while empowering local governments to control their costs.

It also spells out true pension reform that protects state employee’s retirements while reducing the cost to taxpayers.

The Taxpayer Bargain finally shifts the budget conversation in favor of taxpayers over politicians.

The Institute is working hard with other House and Senate members to promote its no-tax-hike policy plan.

Expect future legislative proposals to follow suit.

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