Jul 17, 2017
After more than two years, Illinois finally has a budget. The Democrats who control the state house aided by a few “moderate” Republicans passed it over the veto of the Republican governor, Bruce Rauner.
This new budget will be paid for by a big tax hike on ordinary people: The state income tax rate is going up from 3.75% to 4.95%. For a single adult making $40,000 a year, this will cost an extra 454 dollars. They also made a big show of raising the corporate tax rate – but in reality, about 70 percent of businesses that filed a state income tax return in Illinois paid NO corporate income tax.
The state has already used the budget crisis to shred services. Illinois owes 15 billion dollars to hospitals and service providers. Many non-profit organizations like Meals on Wheels, domestic violence shelters and children’s nutrition programs have closed up shop or dramatically reduced services because they weren’t getting paid.
Education in Illinois has also been rocked, especially in working class and poor areas that rely more heavily on state help. And while the more prestigious colleges like the University of Illinois have been hurt, the community colleges and universities that mostly serve working class people have been pushed to the brink.
Because of the lack of state money, towns and cities have also had to slash services for all kinds of things like 911 emergency services, or raise taxes, or do both.
The new budget doesn’t solve these problems, it just makes official many of the cuts that have already taken place. The state still doesn’t have the money to pay off all its unpaid bills. State colleges and universities face a ten percent budget cut which means college will be even less affordable for working class people. And the new budget doesn’t even resolve how the state will fund k-12 schools next year!
Both parties agree that the state budget is still a mess – so they warn us to get ready for more cuts, and more tax hikes too.
Republican Rauner is blaming the tax-hike on the Democrats. The Democrats are bragging that they “protected” workers and the poor in Illinois from even more draconian cuts. In reality, both parties have used the budget crisis to attack working people. They created this crisis by handing over the state’s money to the big corporations and the wealthy. And then they make us pay for it in cuts to vital services AND with higher taxes.