by Kristina Rasmussen
Not only did Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn receive a solid "F" in the 2012 Cato Institute "Fiscal Policy Report Card on America's Governors," our troubled leader came in dead last amongst all state executives. Out of a possible score of 100 based on seven tax and spending variables, Quinn managed a paltry 16 -- one of just five governors to receive a failing grade.
Here's the write up from Cato -- the litany of policy missteps won't come as much of a surprise to our regular readers:
Governor Quinn took office in 2009 after his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, was impeached and removed from office. Unfortunately, Quinn is following the same big government approach to fiscal policy that his predecessor did. In 2009 Quinn signed a $1.1 billion per year tax increase, which included higher taxes on beer, wine, liquor, candy, beverages, hygiene products, and video gaming. In 2011 he pushed though a massive tax increase of $7.3 billion a year, which included higher individual income taxes, corporate taxes, and estate taxes. The top individual income tax rate rose from 3 to 5 percent, and the top corporate tax rate rose from 4.8 to 7.0 percent. Businesses in Illinois pay an extra 2.5 percentage point charge on top of the basic rate, which brings the overall rate on corporate income to 9.5 percent.
The 2011 Illinois tax increase was by far the largest increase of any state in many years. The $7.3 billion of added net revenue represents about one-quarter of the state’s total tax collections. To top that off, Quinn signed a $1 per pack increase on cigarette taxes in 2012, which will hit lower-income residents particularly hard.
Quinn has apparently noticed that high taxes are pushing businesses out of Illinois, and so he has dished out special breaks to particular companies that threaten to leave, including Sears, Motorola, and the companies that operate Chicago’s financial exchanges, CME Group and CBOT Holdings. Quinn is also a strong supporter of handing out fiscal goodies to the film and TV industries, which gives him a chance to do media events with Hollywood stars.
Governor Quinn’s spending policies are similarly irresponsible. Spending has increased at a faster clip than in most states in recent years, and Quinn has a penchant for issuing debt to paper over the state’s budget problems. He has proposed issuing $7 billion in bonds to pay for past-due bills that the state has failed to pay. And in recent years, Illinois has issued billions of dollars in bonds to cover its required contributions to the state pension plan.