Sixteen months ago, Democrats pushed through the largest income tax increase in Illinois history, an unpopular decision that was billed as a crucial step to put state government on the road to financial recovery.Tax increases are just throwing good money after bad unless they're accompanied by significant spending cuts, entitlement reforms, and adult budgeting.
Yet last week lawmakers made deep cuts in health care for the poor, and this week they face tough votes to raise the cigarette tax, strip away public worker pension benefits and slice spending on social services. Despite all that, the giant pile of unpaid bills that has loomed over state government for years is expected to keep growing.
So why didn't the roughly $7 billion more a year the state is collecting from that income tax hike fix Illinois' money problems?
Pension payments continue to increase dramatically each year. The same is true for health care costs as more people seek coverage during a down economy. And that stack of bills keeps rolling over from one year to the next partly because lawmakers declined to go along with Gov.Pat Quinn's request to use some of the income tax windfall to borrow to pay it off.
We in California are an inclined plane wrapped helically around a pointed cylinder--we're screwed.