Heart of the Matter - Commentary by Tom Kocal, Publisher
The Fertilization of a Once-Great State
We all know it, because we have all seen it with our own eyes, and have experienced it in the course of our lives:
BS rolls down hill.
In my experience, those in a leadership role at the top of the hill often blame those at the bottom for their own poor judgement, inadequacy, or lack of attention to detail. That’s also known as “passing the buck.”
I admit that in my own business, I, too, have been guilty of at least one of the above blame-game notions. But I believe that I have learned from my mistakes, and have taken appropriate action to remedy the situation that, if left unattended, would have resulted in business catastrophe.
It is becoming painfully apparent that there is a huge difference between the proprietors of independent Illinois businesses (those that have chosen to stay in the state, or who have no choice but to stay), and the elected leadership in the State of Illinois government.
Business leaders today know that accountability + responsibility = financial success.
Governor Pat Quinn and the Democratic “leadership” continue to feed us BS, thinking that, in the end, the benefits of all that manure rolling down to their constituency will result in a land of jobs and economic fertility.
But every good gardener and farmer knows that too much of a good thing is never a good thing, especially when it comes to fertilizer application. Like BS, too much fertilizer will burn out your crop - or your constituency, so to speak.
A few years ago, I put a load of composted horse manure on my tomato bed - in the spring. I have never had tomato plants that grew like those. Only one problem: I had 6-7 ft. tall vibrant plants that were a lovely green color, with very few tomatoes. All the fertilizer went into the roots and greenery, but not enough into the tomato blossoms.
All that fertilizer, and no results to speak of. Just like in Illinois today, this load of BS from Springfield is flowing profusely, but producing absolutely nothing.
Ben VanMetre, Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst at the Illinois Policy Institute, in a June 11 article at www.illinoispolicyinstitute.org, reminded us that back in 2011, Illinois lawmakers passed a “temporary” 67% income tax hike and promised to roll back the increase beginning in 2015. Remember what our Fearless Leaders told us?
“We have some temporary tax increases that are designed to pay our bills, get Illinois back on fiscal sound footing and make sure that our state has a strong economy,” said Gov. Pat Quinn.
Senate President John Cullerton said this: “We have just come through the worst economic crisis in our lifetime…and we have not paid our bills. We are going to have to cut…even with this tax. We’re going to have to spend less money then we have in the last two years. And it’s going to be tough. But we are going to have our bills paid.”
And House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie added this: “…Remember the point of this income tax increase is not to expand programs, not to do brand new things in Illinois state government, it is only intended to pay our old bills and deal with the structural deficit. This is not about new spending. It is about trying to bring ourselves in line with the problems of old debt and of a structural deficit.”
VanMetre highlights the BS when he wrote, “Lawmakers already broke their promise regarding how they were going to use the tax-hike money. They said the tax hike was designed to pay down the state’s unpaid bills and restore fiscal order. Instead, $0.80 of every 2012 tax-hike dollar went to pensions. Now they are setting up the fiscal year 2014 budget to break another tax-hike promise by ramping up spending instead of preparing for a sunset.”
Keeping that in mind, what do our Fearless leaders plan to remedy this dilemma? The Illinois General Assembly increased fiscal year 2014 spending to more than $35.4 billion, up approximately $2 billion from what was approved for the current fiscal year; they passed Medicaid expansion; and failed to address the state’s unfunded pension liability, which increases $21 million per day.
“Lawmakers should have used the budget as an opportunity to make the cuts and reforms necessary to sunset the tax hike next year,” VanMetre points out. “Instead, they intentionally ramped up spending. Why? Pushing rapidly growing state spending even higher this year sets the stage to make lowering the tax rate next year look like a political impossibility.”
VanMetre said that Cullerton is already using the increase in spending to apply pressure to make the tax hike permanent. Not only does this set the stage to make the tax hike permanent (as was already proposed during the current session) but it also gives lawmakers an out to make the case for another multibillion-dollar tax increase – a progressive income tax.
Quinn has already said that passing a progressive income tax is “one of my goals before I stop breathing.”
That’s leadership? A goal that clearly violates the Illinois Constitution? In that document, Article IX, Section 3 - LIMITATIONS ON INCOME TAXATION clearly states: “(a) A tax on or measured by income shall be at a non-graduated rate.”
If Quinn keeps pursuing this illegal attempt to side step the Illinois Constitution, then it is time for the Illinois House and Senate, under the watchful eye of responsible citizens, to begin impeachment hearings on the grounds of Quinn violating his Oath of Office. The last two Illinois governor’s are in prison. Maybe three is a charm.
Even if they could change the Constitution to allow for a graduated tax, it would make no difference to Illinois’ bottom line.
“Higher taxes will only end with more broken promises and even bigger problems in Illinois,” said VanMetre. “Lawmakers haven’t earned the right to take more taxpayer money. And the fiscal year 2014 budget is proof of that. This is what failed leadership looks like. It’s time for change.”
After 30-years of Democratic leadership in Springfield, often with a super majority, has the BS finally burned us all out? It is painfully obvious that the BS has not produced the results we were promised. Instead, history keeps repeating itself.
In a Chicago Tribune editorial cartoon from 1934, a “Plan of Action” for the U.S. was outlined by a Trotsky-looking character who stated, “It worked in Russia!” Here is the plan - sound familiar?
SPEND! SPEND! SPEND!
Under the Guise of Recovery - Bust the Government - Blame the Capitalists for the Failure - Junk the Constitution and Declare a Dictatorship.
In Springfield, we all know the “recovery” is all BS; Illinois finances are a bust, with this once-productive state having the worst bond rating in the nation; Many “capitalist” businesses of all sizes have left the state; and Gov. Quinn wants to junk the Illinois Constitution.
It may be an 80-year old cartoon, but it’s not the least bit funny today. The BS just keeps rolling downstate.