As the Illinois General Assembly enters its final week of its 96th session, Sen. Althoff says state leaders are focused too much on tax hikes and increased borrowing as a way to offset the massive budget deficit, and too little on spending cuts.
In recent days, Gov. Pat Quinn and Democratic legislative leaders have entered discussions on increasing the state’s 3 percent income tax to generate revenues; various proposals being debated would raise it between half a percent and 2 5 percent. They are also reportedly close to a final vote on a $4 billion pension borrowing bill aimed at addressing the state’s ailing pension system, with the debt being repaid over an eight year period.
Althoff, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, believes any talk of tackling the state’s massive $13 billion budget hole should begin with reductions in state spending before any other revenue enhancements are considered.
“There’s no question Illinois is facing the worst fiscal crisis in its history, and very tough sacrifices are going to be required to fix it,” Althoff said. “However, our first step should be reining in the spending that has gotten Illinois to the brink of financial catastrophe. We didn’t get to the brink of fiscal collapse because government has taxed too little – we got here because government spent and borrowed too much.”
Instead of racing in the final days of the legislative session to pass tax hikes and borrowing, the 32nd district Senator says lawmakers should instead take their time in coming up with a comprehensive bipartisan fiscal recovery plan.
“Both political parties created this mess, and both political parties need to come together to fix it,”Althoff said. “A better approach would be to wait until the new lawmakers take office next week and begin a deliberative process of solving this fiscal crisis in a bipartisan way.”
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