In a state where government is built on lies, borrowing, spending and taxing, it’s no surprise to see so much celebration over the recently concluded legislative session.
But the most stupefying reaction is the written statement by Republican Senate Minority Leader Jim Durkin. The full text is reproduced below.
“No tax increases,” he says. For God’s sake, does he think nobody reads the news? There’s a doubling of the current 19-cent-per-gallon state gas tax, increased charges for vehicle registrations, an allowance for Cook County municipalities to levy a 3-cent-per-gallon motor fuel tax, higher cigarette taxes, heavy new taxes on parking and a huge new cut for government in expanded gambling and sports betting. Maybe he thinks he’s being cute because most of that is technically in the capital plan and not the budget, but come on. Money is fungible, there’s huge overlap and a tax is a tax.
And the budget was “balanced” this year and last, Durkin says. Many from both parties made that claim last year, but state tells bond buyers a different story when the consequence for lying is a fraud charge. The offering statement – the official disclosure document – for a bond offering in August said there was a $1.2 billion imbalance in the last budget. We wrote about it then, but don’t take our word for it. See Yvette Shields’ article in The Bond Buyer, headlined “Illinois offering document paints a gloomier picture than its politicians.”
Even that number drastically understates the true imbalance because it’s based on phony cash-only accounting standards. As we’ve explained often, the state has consistently run deficits averaging about $10 billion per year. The budget hasn’t been truly imbalanced since 2001. The new budget will be little different. We’ll be looking at it in detail soon. It was among the thousands of pages dumped on the General Assembly last week.
Durkin’s statement lists the reforms the legislature passed. They’re meaningful but nothing that will turn the direction of the state. They’re being characterized by some as concessions by Democrats, but are they? They are common sense measures and there was little reason to oppose them. They should have been implemented before. That didn’t happen because Democrats controlling the legislature were determined to allow nothing to pass during the Rauner Administration that might be seen as a victory for him. Now, they will have their list of “reforms” to boast about.
This was the most “consequential” legislative session in Illinois history, many are saying. That’s probably true, whatever your perspective. Consequential in a catastrophic sense, is our view. We also hope it’s consequential for Jim Durkin and every other officeholder saying things as preposterous as he said, Republican and Democratic alike.
*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints
Text of Durkin’s Statement:
Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) released the following statement on the end of this year’s legislative session:
“The end of this legislative was another historic moment for the House Republicans. Not only did we pass a bipartisan, balanced budget without any tax increases, but we also achieved significant business reforms for our communities that will boost the economy across our state. As I’ve said before, we can get great things done for Illinois families as long as we respect the principles and priorities of each caucus. In doing so, we have passed historic education reform, two bipartisan, balanced budgets and now important reforms that will grow jobs. I am proud to have worked with the legislative leaders and the Governor to finally do what’s right for Illinois families and businesses.”
- Creation of the Blue Collar Jobs Act – which will attract large scale construction projects.
- Creation of a Data Center Tax Incentive – which will enhance the state’s ability to locate data centers in Illinois by providing tax incentives.
- Reinstatement of the Manufacturer’s Purchase Credit – to encourage further investments in manufacturing in Illinois.
- Elimination of the antiquated Illinois Franchise Tax.
- Elimination of cap on the Retailer’s Discount.
- Tabling of Senate Bill 1407 – a bill that aimed to impose wage and regulatory requirements on refineries, ethanol plants, and chemical facilities.