Resolution filed to oppose new graduated tax effort
I am among the co-sponsors of House Resolution 135, which expresses opposition to any effort to bring back the graduated income tax which Illinois voters soundly rejected last fall.
Last year the General Assembly passed an unbalanced budget based on the expectation of approval of the tax increase along with a federal bailout. Neither of those things happened and we are now seeing the consequences. We should not be basing our budgeting on the assumption of higher taxes. Instead government should live within its means and put together a realistic budget based on actual revenue figures, not illusions.
Our resolution expresses the belief that an income tax increase is not the solution to our bad budgeting practices and it should not be considered as part of the budget plan for the coming year.
Republicans call for a hearing on school re-openings
This week I joined with the Republican members of the three committees dealing with Education in calling for a public hearing to examine the ways we can get all Illinois schoolchildren safely back in the classroom again.
Medical experts have stated that it is safe to re-open schools with some precautions, and that continuing to keep kids out of school is causing great harm.
We propose a hearing to get input from school leaders and state policymakers to find out what else needs to be done before we can finally get our schools back open.
Revenue was up in February
The latest report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) showed that Illinois’ revenue position is improving – without higher taxes. The February COGFA report analyzed the impact of the pandemic on state revenues and found that February 2021 was a better month than February 2020, the last month before lockdowns and quarantines disrupted the economy.
Income tax, sales tax and federal payments for things like Medicaid reimbursements were all up in February compared to the year before. Income tax revenue was up by $69 million, sales tax collections increased by $47 million and federal revenues went up by $242 million. These are positive signs for the state’s ability to put together a balanced budget without raising taxes.
There are still warning signs, however, as segments of the economy like restaurants and hospitality continue to suffer from the lockdowns. A projection from Moody’s Analytics suggests that even with the ongoing recovery from the pandemic, Illinois’ unemployment rate could still be around 6% at the end of the year. Illinois’ economy continues to underperform the rest of the country, and the study finds that we are likely to grow slower than other states over the next few years. Rejecting a tax increase would be a helpful step toward improving conditions, as would enacted a pro-growth jobs creating agenda in the spring session.
Two more bills advance through committee
This week the House continued to hold remote committee hearings, reviewing legislation and voting to move some bills to the House floor.
Two more of my bills advanced, House Bill 656 to improve motorcycle safety and House Bill 657 which recognizes the service of Air Force combat veterans. Both bills passed the Transportation: Vehicles and Safety Committee by votes of 10-0 and now go to the House floor.
New equipment for Forrest Fire Department
Along with Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington I was honored recently to visit with the fire department in Forrest and to see their firefighting equipment firsthand. Forrest recently received some new funding from the state for new equipment for the department. Also joining us, via Zoom, for the tour was our Illinois State Fire Marshal Matt Perez. Congratulations to the department and thank you for all you do for our community!
Remember to spring forward!
This weekend brings another sure sign that spring is just around the corner: at 2 a.m. Sunday it will once again be time to set clocks forward one hour for daylight saving time. Fire safety officials also remind us that this is a good time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors to ensure that they are in proper working condition.
How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $5,416,675,379 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $7.6 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $141 billion.
More news from around the state
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My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).