As Illinois lawmakers strive to solve the state budget impasse, Illinoisans have spoken out loud and clear. In a recent poll released by Americans for Prosperity Illinois, 62 percent of Independents are in favor of spending cuts, while a mere 9 percent support tax hikes.
The poll shows that regardless of party affiliation, a large majority of voters expressed their approval of additional spending cuts in government as the most appropriate solution to the state’s current budget crisis. Voters were not in favor of higher taxes or increased borrowing.
In a press release, Americans for Prosperity said that it would continue to urge lawmakers to balance the state budget by employing conservative spending measures, rather than tax hikes that will crush the job market.
“Democrat, Republican, and Independent voters overwhelmingly say they do no(sic) want another tax hike,” AFP Illinois State Director David From said. “Unfortunately, many of the draft proposals floated this week have included small spending cuts compared to large tax increases. That is not what Illinoisans of any party identification want their legislators to support.”
Over the past several months, a large number of Illinoisans have protested against budget cuts, according to From. Many of the protesters have been school teachers, healthcare workers and government workers attempting to highlight the negative impact that cutting state services would have on Illinois.
The poll shows that despite the numerous protests, a majority of voters are in favor of spending cuts.
“I think that’s one of the reasons we did the poll because we had the sense that the general sentiment from voters is that they don’t want tax hikes, and they do want spending cuts. And we felt that the narrative in the media was possibly the opposite,” From told The Record.
Still, From believes it is important for everyone’s voice to be heard.
“There are groups that are negatively affected by cuts. And there are constituencies that receive state funding. Cuts hurt. It’s not a pleasant thing. And they [protesters] are making their voices heard like they should,” he said.
U.S. Representative Dwight Kay was not surprised by the poll results.
“People [Illinoisans] think we have over spent and over borrowed for years,” he said, a predicament he believes past governors should have avoided.
“They[taxpayers] should be unhappy,” Kay added. “We need to cut corruption in government. There’s billions of dollars in corruption.”
According to the poll, 41 percent of Independents who believe the state is going in the wrong direction blame the Illinois General Assembly, 15 percent blame Gov. Bruce Rauner, and 16 percent blame both.
Kay believes problems within the General Assembly and bad management largely contributed to the budget impasse affecting the nation’s 5th largest state.
When asked what the Republican caucus is doing to solve the budget crisis, his answer was simple.
“Our caucus is a minority caucus.”
Kay stated that one of the areas the government needs to look at closely when considering budget cuts is government grants. Although he mentioned that there are many grants for worthy causes, lawmakers need to be careful in determining which grants the government funds.
So, will Illinois be hit with a tax increase? Kay says it is likely -- given that the Illinois House only needs 61 votes to approve a tax increase in a new session, less than the 71 votes required in the extended session of summer when super majority consensus was needed.