Mar 4, 2002
On February 20 Illinois Governor George Ryan called for the elimination of 3,800 state jobs through layoffs and early retirements and massive cuts to social programs. He claims there is a drastic falloff in state revenues and that “everyone has to take a cut.”
The governor calls for reductions in many programs that benefit the poorest people in the state. He wants the elimination of school breakfast programs, early reading and math programs, disabled programs and bilingual education. He would cut state Medicaid payments to hospitals and pharmacies, which in turn would lead to reduced health care for poor people. He would close a center for the mentally ill in Elgin.
In recent years Illinois politicians have issued all kinds of tax breaks to the corporations and the wealthy – on the grounds that the state had a big budget surplus. So where did the surplus go? This little recession isn’t enough to get rid of it. The surplus went to the corporations and the wealthy.
The state changed the way the corporate profits tax is calculated. Before it was based in part on how much investment a multi-state corporation had in the state. Now it is based only on the company’s sales in the state. Big corporations that have many factories in the state sell only a small% of what they produce in the state. The state lost 96 million dollars a year from this change alone.
The U.S. Congress recently passed Bush’s proposal to sharply cut the estate tax paid only by the richest two% of the population. Illinois, because it refused to rewrite its law, will lose 90 million dollars from its tax on the estates of the richest families, which is currently tied to the level of the federal tax.
The state of Illinois recently decided to pay a subsidy to the racetrack industry of 38 million dollars a year. Almost every other industry has received additional subsidies in recent years, too.
Governor Ryan pretends that this year there is a 500 million dollar shortfall in the state budget. Compare that to the 4.3 billion dollar reductions in taxes that corporations get.
Why should any Illinois state worker be laid off or any social program be cut? Let the politicians eliminate all the gifts to the corporations and the wealthy that they have enacted in recent years. Then not only would there not be a shortfall. There would be plenty of money to provide the kind of schools all children need, medical care for all, decent wages and working conditions for state workers. And so on.