IPI report finds faults in budget

Illinois Capitol News
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ILLINOIS (WCIA) — New comprehensive analysis by the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) indicates lawmakers ended the 2019 legislative session with a whopping 21 tax and fee hikes on taxpayers; one of longest lists of increases the state has ever seen.

In total, these new or increased taxes and fees will suck $4.7 billion out of the state’s economy. On top of this, the Institute found the record-high 2020 budget will spend more than it takes in by as much as $1.3 billion.

Highlights of the analysis:

  • The fiscal year 2020 budget is out of balance by between $574 million and $1.3 billion, depending on the revenue estimate. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle claimed they passed a balanced budget.
  • In total, lawmakers created seven new taxes to be deposited into the Illinois General Revenue Fund. These total nearly $1.1 billion in new revenue for the first year and $1.7 billion in the long run.
  • The remaining 14 tax and fees hikes add up to nearly $3 billion in annual revenue. They will be dedicated to the state’s new $45 billion infrastructure plan.
  • State lawmakers gave themselves a $1,600 pay raise. At nearly $70,000, Illinois state lawmakers will take home the sixth-highest base salary in the nation and the most among the five other states with similar legislator roles. This does not include $10,000 committee chair stipends or other special perks.
  • The budget allocated an extra $19,000 per year to each lawmaker’s in-district allowance – to spend on office rent, staff, food, etc. – bringing their total allowance to $88,000 per year.
  • With only 12 hours to discuss and vote on a 1,581-page budget, most state leaders, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker, are not entirely sure of what’s in the budget or how the revenue sources will be utilized.

Adam Schuster, director of budget and tax research for IPI, offered the following statement:

Illinois lawmakers lied about their endgame with this year’s budget and capital plan and the winners and losers are clear. Politicians and special interest groups reaped the benefits of pet projects to bring back to their districts and selective tax credits that ignore the overall cost of business to the average Illinoisan. Meanwhile, everyday taxpayers are stuck paying more than ever on new, regressive taxes and fees with little transparency as to where their hard-earned money is going.

The endless cycle of poor fiscal management will live on in this state until lawmakers commit to structural reforms. Contrary to the governor’s claims, balanced budgets and paying off debt can be accomplished without cuts to necessary services or adopting an economically harmful progressive income tax.

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