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Spending Caps in Illinois Tax Hike Would Be a Joke if Poverty Was Funny

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A funny and tragic piece on the tax hike yesterday:


Illinois taxpayers will have to fork over a lot more money now that Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a major tax increase, but Democratic leaders want them to take comfort in knowing that new spending limits will ensure their dollars are handled carefully.

Not so fast, say Republicans. They see potential loopholes that Democrats could exploit to avoid any real fiscal discipline.

The most vocal advocate for the spending limits, Senate President John Cullerton, seems almost hurt that anyone would suggest deception.

“Please believe these spending caps are real,” the Chicago Democrat said during debate in the chamber over the legislation. “It’s the first time it’s ever been done here, and it’s literally turning over power to the minority.”

Calling the holes in the spending caps “potential loopholes” is like calling mesothelioma a slight cough (or that Michael Jackson got a little creepy towards the end).  Facts:

  • Only the general fund is subject to the caps.  Any “special fund” is completely exempt.  And the law coincidentally creates two new “special funds” including one for “human services” (i.e. absolutely anything the state government could ever imagine spending money on).
  • The cap for 2012 is a 10% spending increase over 2011’s non-capped spending.  And it increases 2% per year after that.  Think about that.
  • The Governor can at any time declare a fiscal emergency (just in case they don’t feel like moving funds to the human services fund, I guess) where the caps cease to apply.  This is the smallest loophole, at least at the moment, because 1 of the 2 constitutional offices held by a Republican over the last decade is comptroller, who has a veto over the Governor’s declaration.

Did I mention that there’s a mandatory funding level for the new “special funds”?  After everything the tax hike is expected to raise about $7 billion (which some have apparently forgotten is a smaller number than $15 billion, which is the size of the current deficit).  And they specifically cut municipalities out of the new funds, so it doesn’t change one damn thing about the impending municipal collapses.  Apparently Madigan and Cullerton don’t think that’s going to effect the state government at all (good luck with all that).


Written by updowndownup

January 14, 2011 at 10:22 am

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