Ben VanMetre May 23, 2014, 9:33am

Illinois politicians are nervous. They don’t yet have the votes to pass another tax hike, and they’ve done nothing to prepare a balanced budget under the actual 2015 income tax rates.

Now they’ve resorted to guilting Illinoisans into paying higher taxes.

We’re all familiar with these stories by now. Politicians have focused on narratives that show the sunset of the 2011 income tax hike putting teachers out of work; they spin tales of seniors, children and veterans going without care and prisoners being let out onto the streets. When politicians are desperate to find supporters for a tax hike, these are the kind of sob stories they tout.

But the reality is the 2011 income tax increase isn’t helping the victims in these stories. And making it permanent won’t do the trick, either.

Eighty cents of every tax-hike dollar went to state pensions in 2012 – not to roads, education or human services.

The problem is political leadership in Illinois has a double standard when it comes to state government and taxpayers.

Gov. Pat Quinn refuses to reform spending or make the budget cuts necessary to sunset the tax hike as promised. In fact, he’s been steadily growing the Illinois state budget at the expense of taxpayers. But he wants us to live by a different standard. He wants taxpayers to fork over thousands more in higher taxes. He wants taxpayers to make the difficult decisions on where to cut from their own budgets.

So we want to ask Quinn: What exactly would you like us to cut from our family budgets?

The graphic below shows how average consumers in the Midwest spend their money. It’s a good representation of what the Illinois family budget looks like.

The truth is there’s no room left in family budgets for another tax hike. Tax hikes don’t take money away from your annual salary; tax hikes come out of whatever money is left after you pay the mortgage or rent, car payments, buy groceries, pay for health care and everything else families struggle to afford.

Guilting taxpayers into paying more to the state is a sign of desperation from politicians struggling to maintain the status quo in Illinois.

What political leadership in Illinois should feel guilty about is the fact that they have nothing to show from the billions they’ve collected in higher taxes from Illinois families, businesses and entrepreneurs since 2011. They should feel guilty about the fact that they’ve been planning on breaking their tax-hike promise for years. And they should feel guilty about any budget they pass that spends more than the state will bring in under the legally required sunset tax rates of 2015.

The feeling of guilt belongs to Illinois politicians; not taxpayers.

Benjamin VanMetre is Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst with the Illinois Policy Institute.

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Illinois Policy Institute
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Chicago, IL 60603

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