Think tank pushes budget proposal featuring no tax hikes
Ted Dabrowski wants the people of Illinois to know that the “grand bargain” being proposed as a solution to the long-running state budget crisis isn’t really intended to be to their benefit.
“It’s a bargain for the politicians and special interest groups in the way it’s full of bailouts for the CPS and others,” the vice president of policy at the conservative think tank Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) told the Sangamon Sun. “It's advancing a plan that continues to treat the citizens of this state like an ATM machine.”
Now, Dabrowski and the IPI are intent on changing all that, proposing a budget earlier this week they insist would close the state’s massive deficit without raising any new taxes.
“Our plan is the only one that makes the kind of big spending cuts that are truly needed,” he said. “The people of Illinois need to realize we can close this gap without hiking taxes by doing the responsible thing.”
More specifically, the IPI plan would freeze property taxes for five years and slash the state payroll by at least 10 percent. The proposal also calls for enrolling employees of the state in a 401k-style retirement plan and downsizing Medicaid spending, as well as college and university funding.
“As it is, residents are already paying the highest taxes of any state in the country,” Dabrowski said. “We’re already seeing seniors and low income people being forced to leave the state. We’re experiencing record migration and our businesses are leaving. The last thing we need are more taxes.”
When it comes to Chicago in particular, Dabrowski added that residents must be feeling a sense of déjà vu.
“Chicago is already the one city suffering more than any other,” he said. “There’s already way too much debt, and other than our plan all that’s being proposed is more of it. The city has to become more competitive to attract more businesses and more taxes isn’t the way to do it.”
Instead, Dabrowski argued, it’s time for legislators to get serious about attacking the state’s massive pension problem if they hope to make the state more attractive to businesses that could be in play.
“Why would they move here when they know a huge bill could soon be coming their way in the form of another bailout?” he said. “You can’t fix Illinois without fixing the pension problem.”
Meanwhile, Democrats largely dismissed the plan as more of the same and a rehashing of longtime Republican-held principles.
"It's the same stuff they have been pushing,” Steve Brown, a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) told The State Journal-Register. “They want to go back to the 1950s and be west Indiana, I don't think Illinoisans are ready for that. They think that's a good way to restore prosperity, crush anybody that makes an hourly wage."
Dabrowski was quick to respond, reminding voters that Madigan has now been in power for more than three decades.
“He’s responsible for the status quo,” Dabrowski said. “He’s responsible for all the failure.”
To hammer their case home, Dabrowski added that IPI staffers will be meeting with legislators and others up until the time the issue comes up for a vote to make certain everyone fully understands exactly what they are proposing.
The institute contrasted its approach to the Illinois Senate's "grand bargain" that would extend the state sales tax to some services; create an "opportunity tax" on employers, determined by the size of their payrolls; and raise the individual income tax to 4.99 percent from the current 3.75 percent.
Organizations in this Story
One Copley Plaza
Springfield, IL - 62701