Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst
Illinois House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang, D-Skokie, wants to hike taxes to avoid meaningful pension reform. Lang’s solution is to keep income taxes up statewide as a “reform” for Illinois’ pension systems, which are underfunded by $209 billion. He introduced legislation Wednesday, Feb. 20, that would make the record 67 percent income tax hike from 2011 permanent and use the higher taxes to make pension payments.
Making the tax hike permanent was only a rumor until this point. But now the rumor has materialized into an actual threat. And Lang thinks it’s a no-brainer: “I don't think there’s anyone in this building who doesn't believe we need to extend the income tax increase.”
Unfortunately, Lang is not alone. State Rep Elaine Nekritz, D-Des Plaines, said, “Including the income tax increase as part of the solution, to me, is already being part of the solution … It’s actually how we’re making the pension payments right now.”
It’s true that nearly the entire 2011 tax hike was used to pay for pensions. In fact, 80 cents of every tax-hike dollar went to pay government worker pensions in 2012.
Papering over the state’s problems with higher taxes is no solution – it only worsens Illinois’ financial position. Illinoisans already bear the ninth-highest tax burden in the country, pay the second-highest property taxes in the nation and face the fourth-highest corporate income tax in the industrialized world.
The truth about the 2011 income tax has finally surfaced, and lawmakers are admitting that it is nothing more than another broken promise.
As you hear lawmakers discuss tax hikes, remember the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Don’t be fooled again. Illinoisans must push to repeal the 2011 tax hike and force lawmakers to stop bankrolling their spending binge on the taxpayers’ dime.