Editorials

Illinois Senate Democrats twerk taxpayers with latest budget attempt

Shall we dance? Shall we balance a budget? Shall we again tax those who are taxed more than any others are taxed?
Shall we dance? Shall we balance a budget? Shall we again tax those who are taxed more than any others are taxed? Photo illustration

The dance never changes: For three years the “Springfield Shag” has been all the rage, with the same steps leading dancers back to where they started.

Stagger unbalanced like a drunken sailor. Kick that can on down the road. Go low on the governor, then twerk the taxpayers. Duck for cover, do-si-do.

It doesn’t seem to matter that no one thinks Springfield’s got talent, or that there are no idols there, or that no one is turning their chairs when they hear those voices singing the same old song of deficits and inaction. The dance continues despite all reason and despite all despair.

Illinois Senate Democrats — no Republicans voted for it — just decided that you are not spending enough on state government as they passed their version of a budget bill. Illinoisans are the highest taxed people in the nation at nearly 15 percent of their income, but still Democratic senators want the state income tax to rise from 3.75 to 4.95 percent and collect it back to Jan. 1 — a double whammy on workers nearly halfway through the year.

Their plan will take $1,124 from each household in the state for a total hike of $5.4 billion. They also want to extend the state sales tax to everything from home improvement services to tattoos to your Netflix subscription.

For what? There’s no property tax relief in this plan. There are no reforms. There’s nothing to pay down the $14.4 billion bill backlog. It’s likely dead on arrival — even Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan was balking at it.

It is just a performance. They did something. Take it, Illinois House.

Illinoisans are overwhelmingly against what is coming out of the statehouse. The state budget impasse is worrying 94 percent of Illinoisans and 67 percent said their families have been directly impacted, according to a new poll of voters by the Illinois Policy Institute.

Nearly two-thirds are against raising the state income tax. Half want cuts as the only tool to close the budget gap and half are against an income tax hike even with property tax relief.

Although lawmakers don’t let opinions shape their dance stylings, nearly two-thirds of those voters said they’d be less likely to support a candidate who raised their state income taxes and nearly three-fourths said they’d be miffed with a candidate who raised the sales tax.

Wednesday is the last day of the legislative session. There will likely be a budget bill, but don’t expect it to be balanced or to cause anyone in state government any pain. It is all prelude to saying Gov. Bruce Rauner is out of step.

The rest of us will be made to limbo to see how low we can go — credit ratings, employment, social services, college enrollment, population and personal income. All that matters to the Springfield Shaggers is to see a Democrat in 2019 leading the Governor’s Inaugural Ball.

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