Even with Gov. Pat Quinn’s recent 67 percent tax hike, Illinois continues to race toward a fiscal cataclysm that will leave the state with an annual deficit of $8 billion and a cumulative deficit of more than $22 billion within five years, warns State Sen. Pamela Althoff.

“Unless we act now to actively reduce state spending, in a substantial way, Illinois taxpayers will see enormous tax hikes in the future,” warned Althoff, the Republican Spokesperson on the Senate Appropriations Committee. “As a result, families will see their household incomes drop sharply, and the skyrocketing cost of doing business in Illinois will drive away companies and jobs. Tackling the deficit isn’t just about our state’s fiscal future, it’s about our economic future, as well.”

Althoff said a Senate Republican review of spending and revenue trends makes it apparent that Illinois will take between $4 to $6 billion in additional spending reductions to the Governor's proposed budget in order to put the state back on track. That means without matching budget cuts, the “temporary” income tax hike passed by Gov. Pat Quinn and the legislative majority this year will need to become permanent in order to keep the state financially afloat, and even larger tax hikes would be necessary down the road to put Illinois back on a firm fiscal path.

The McHenry senator said a careful analysis of state spending and revenues shows that massive deficits will occur if lawmakers adopt the Governor's proposed budget and adhere to "spending caps" that are in fact, far too generous and optimistic than the state's revenues can sustain. The senator is working with colleagues to identify realistic reductions, but before a discussion of cuts can occur, there needs to be a "reality check" so that the public understands how serious the situation is.

"Before you can move on to a solution, you need to define the problem. Unfortunately, too few people in the Statehouse are willing to face up to the problem," Althoff said. "The spending plan that the Governor put before us would create a deficit every single year for the next five years – and that's with the 67% tax increase."

At a Statehouse press conference on Wednesday, Althoff joined Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and other colleagues to highlight the severe fiscal challenges facing Illinois and call on a bipartisan solution to the problem.

"I'm working with my caucus to meet two marks in the coming weeks," Radogno (said. "First, to identify, genuine reductions and savings that will achieve a minimum of $4 billion in savings. And second, to line up sufficient support within my caucus so that we can put at least 15 votes on any proposal."

Radogno acknowledged that it is much easier to talk about reductions than to actually line up the votes to make them happen, especially because "within my caucus, there is strong feeling that we did not create this problem over the past eight years."

"I understand that sentiment and I'm sympathetic to it, but the reality is the situation is so severe that we have no choice. These are going to be tough, tough decisions. I am working to persuade my caucus that we have to meet the majority halfway in order to work our way out of this crisis," Radogno said.

Those interested in viewing the Senate Republicans’ full analysis of the budget crisis can visit:

 http://www.senategop.state.il.us/images/stories/2011/Quinn_path_web_bookletdraft1.pdf.

 

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