Mess in Illinois Only the Beginning of States’ Budget Woes
By Joseph Schuman
When Illinois legislators voted this week to raise state income taxes by 66 percent, they weren’t sending a signal of tax-and-spend. It was tax-and-survive.
The millions of job losses, real-estate market implosion and relentless economic malaise wrought by the 2008-09 recession left Illinois’ and other states’ treasuries barren and their budgets deep in the red.
Budget shortfalls are expected to be bad again this year and next, leaving state governments around the country with no choice but to painfully cut social services, education funds and other spending, or raise taxes, or in most cases both.
“The wolf is at the door,” Illinois state Rep. Greg Harris, a Chicago Democrat, said early Wednesday as the House approved a tax increase that was seconded by the state Senate hours later and that Gov. Pat Quinn promised to soon sign into law.