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May 29, 2014

Illinois fiscal policy falls short -- again

Illinois lawmakers' legs must get pretty sore from kicking that can down the road all the time. They're doing it again this year with a fiscal 2015 budget that doesn't commit to making the temporary income tax hike permanent, but doesn't bring spending into line with revenue, either.

Instead, the budget relies on smoke and mirrors -- the same sort of trickery that got Illinois into a financial hole before: "borrowing" money from other state funds and not paying bills on time.

The House already passed the budget, and the Senate is expected to do so today.

Lawmakers act as if they have only two alternatives: making the income tax permanent or making devastating cuts in programs and services. If that's true, it is because they squandered the last few years of higher income tax rates and failed to get spending under control. Keep in mind, even if the income tax increase partially rolls back in January, the state will still get 25 percent more from individuals than it did prior to the temporary tax. Lawmakers have proven incapable and unwilling to make any fiscal progress.

What's particularly irritating about the unbalanced budget is their motivation for approving it: They're not really worried about the effects of keeping higher taxes or making deeper cuts on the taxpayers of Illinois. They are only worried that they might jeopardize their own re-election chances.

Couldn't have that. Kick that can.

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