After the big Illinois income tax increase engineered by House Speaker Mike Madigan, the question that immediately follows is:
When will they be back for another tax increase? Because everyone, I mean everyone except the most partisan among us, knows that the 32 percent tax increase won’t be anywhere near enough to solve Illinois budget crisis.
The answer came almost immediately. As the Chicago Tribune reported just after the Madigan tax increase was passed:
Democratic Senate President John Cullerton suggested Thursday that paying down more of the bills would require raising taxes even higher, or making steeper cuts to what he described as an already “Spartan” budget.
Responding to an indication from Moody’s Investors Service that even having a full budget in place wouldn’t be enough to stave off a credit downgrade, Cullerton said, “What they’re saying is perhaps we don’t even have enough cuts or enough revenue.” [Emphasis added.]
Uh, so if Madigan has a choice between cutting the budget or raising taxes, which do you
think he’ll take?. Which do you think that he’ll order Cullerton to support? Which will his toadies automatically back? Which do you think he’ll blackjack reluctant Republicans to support by forcing the state into another crisis?
Cullerton’s statement was buried deep in the Tribune’s second day story. Hardly anyone noticed. It should have been the headline story. At least it would have been back in the days when Chicago had four daily newspapers competing with each other for each and every story.
I can’t explain the reluctance to ask these obvious and simple questions of Madigan (not that you’d get a straight answer): Where the hell is your plan now to restore Illinois’ fiscal health? You said it was wrong of Gov. Bruce Rauner to propose reforms in a budget, implying that reforms would come later. Where are they now that you’ve gotten your tax increase?
Madigan’s rigid refusal to compromise brought Illinois to its knees (not unlike the Republicans did in Congress earlier to force a government shutdown) to successfully push Republican lawmakers of conscience to vote for the tax increase without any substantive reform because the immediate crisis would have done horrible damage to the state.
Now get ready, folks, for the next crisis that is sure to come. And we’ll repeat this kabuki dance all over again. I can hear it now: We must have another tax increase, now. Without any reforms.
Damn if it isn’t Groundhog Day over and over again.