I would say "Only in Illinois," but I suspect that other states have similar problems and would propose "solutions" just as nutty as the Democratic state Speaker Michael Madigan and his party have chosen.
The state has an unpaid bills backlog of $5.8 billion, meaning that vendors are going months before they get paid. We're supposed to be thrilled that this total is down from $8.8 billion several years ago. So when I read that Madigan wants to impose a "millionaire" income tax of 3 percent over and above the steep tax increases on income-earning Illinois residents across the board three years ago, I figured that he would at least plan on using the money to further whittle down those past-due amounts. Silly me. Unfortunately, reporters Ray Long, Monique Garcia and Maura Zurick at the Chicago Tribune didn't even bring the topic of old bills up in covering Madigan's ill-advised plan, which seems to have more to do with swaying the November election results — especially the race for the governor's mansion — than anything substantive:
Illinois Democrats go all-in on class warfare theme
Illinois Democrats went all-in Thursday with their election-year class warfare theme as Speaker Michael Madigan pitched the idea of asking voters to raise taxes on millionaires, Senate President John Cullerton advanced a minimum-wage increase and Gov. Pat Quinn compared wealthy opponent Bruce Rauner to TV villain Mr. Burns.
The moves continued a Democratic push to highlight income inequity that started Tuesday night before Rauner had even claimed his narrow victory in the Republican primary for governor. Rauner and Republican legislative leaders have countered by accusing Democrats of being tax happy and trying to drive a wedge between the rich and poor.
The newest front in the campaign battle came as Madigan held a rare news conference to announce he wants lawmakers to put a question on the Nov. 4 ballot asking voters whether the state should raise the income tax by 3 percentage points on those who make more than $1 million a year.
The powerful Democratic speaker said the tax hike on millionaires is a way to generate more than $1 billion for elementary and high schools. Madigan based his calculations on what he said are roughly 13,675 millionaires that lived in Illinois in 2011, brushing aside a question about whether such a tax hike might drive them out of the state.
“Well, if they’re in Illinois today, they’re probably so much in love with Illinois that they’re not going to leave,” Madigan said. “We’ve done this because we feel that the millionaires in Illinois are the ones that are better equipped to support education than others.
Well, Mike they may not leave, but it seems reasonably likely that they will try harder than usual to report less income, and perhaps less income earned in the state if that positions them to lower their overall tax bill.
Based on the numbers presented, Madigan and Illinois Democrats want to take an average of $73,100 from those 13,675 taxpayers who earn over $1 million per year. Keeping in mind that they're already paying quite a bit in income tax, how in the world is that fair — especially given that schools in Chicago and many other state districts pay out teachers' and administrators' salaries and benefits which are ridiculously unreasonable? Fewer than 14,000 households are being raided to support a state with at 4 million other household. Oh, I forgot. Democrats are the party of "you didn't build that." What hogwash.
On Thursday, Madigan said he had “not yet” decided how to address the question of whether the current 5 percent income tax rate should be kept in place.
“That’s a separate issue,” Madigan said. “This is separate from the question of whether the income tax increase would be extended.”
Anyone who thinks that state lawmakers plan on letting the "temporary" income-tax increase passed several years ago expire is probably smoking too much of that stuff which Colorado just legalized.
Again, the Tribune's three reporters failed to mention that the state can't even pay its bills, which in a sane government would cause the idea of forking out another $1 billion per year while risking the presence of its most productive people to be immediately rejected.
But this is Illinois. The fact that it is arguably in the worst financial shape of any state in the nation and that its economy has been a laggard for years doesn't even matter.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.