SPRINGFIELD, IL – Senate Republicans last Thursday unveiled a series of spending and revenue adjustments that would put Illinois on firm financial footing and allow the roll back of the 67% income tax increase enacted during the lame-duck legislative session in January.
“Last week we laid out the disastrous financial path that Illinois will face if we follow the Governor’s spending plan. We pointed out that without significant changes, Illinois is on target to accumulate a $22 billion deficit in five years,” Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said. “No one disputed those numbers.
“We also said that we would lay out a plan that avoids the budget disaster, brings spending under control and improves the Illinois economy. Today, as promised, we are releasing that plan,” Radogno said.
The GOP caucus determined that $5 billion in spending and revenue changes would allow the state to roll back the full income tax increase and eliminate job-killing business tax hikes that were also enacted in the middle of the night in January, Radogno and state senators Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) and Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry), the Senate Republicans’ top two budget experts, explained.
“As a staunch opponent of the tax hike, I am very pleased that we were able to develop a practical, achievable plan to roll back the tax hike,” Murphy said. “This is an excellent blueprint for eliminating the tax hikes and creating a stable environment that will foster job growth in Illinois. Instead of taking a paycheck away from taxpayers, we can start to give them something back.”
Althoff added, “We’re not here today proposing these spending reductions because we’re happy about cutting services. Many worthy programs – programs I strongly believe in – could be cut. The fact is we have no choice. The alternative, a $22 billion deficit in five years, is simply unacceptable.”
Radogno noted that after Senate Republicans outlined the grim financial future facing Illinois, neither the Governor nor his legislative allies refuted the numbers. She said that while there should be robust debate between those who want to reduce government spending and those who support permanent and higher tax hikes, there should be no debate over the numbers.
She issued an invitation to those who might oppose the Senate Republican’s recommendations, saying she welcomes the chance to review other ideas for cutting spending.
“We were criticized for taking our time to work through a plan, but we wanted to make sure it was responsible, fair and reasonable. We tried to preserve core responsibilities of state government. If the Governor and the majority party have other ideas of how to bring spending into line with revenues, we’re happy to sit down and discuss those options,” Radogno said. “In fact, I hope they do come forward with ideas so we can work together to prevent a massive budget deficit.”
Radogno said the menu of items unveiled on Thursday would total about $6.7 billion in reductions and financial improvements. At least $4 billion would be needed to bring the budget into line by the time the temporary tax hike is set to expire and $5 billion would be needed to allow an earlier stepped reduction in the tax increases.
As she did last week, Radogno emphasized that one consideration in developing the alternative plan was to set a goal of having at least 15 Republican votes (half needed for passage) on individual elements of the plan.