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DeWayne's World - I have nothing left to cut

DeWayne Bartels

Gov. Pat Quinn wants you and I to get along with less for the benefit of the state.

On March 10, Quinn announced plans to increase Illinois’ state income tax by 33 percent, meaning you and I would fork over an even greater share of our earnings to the second most debt-laden state in the nation.

Quinn must see you and I as money-bloated and stingy people unwilling to step up to the plate and give more to the state.

State Sen. Dale Risinger (R-Peoria), who represents North Peoria, is not a big fan of Quinn’s proposed state budget plan.

Quinn’s budget plan for next year relies on spending nearly $5 billion more than expected state revenues, borrowing to make up the difference and ignoring billions more in unpaid bills, Risinger says.

Risinger said Quinn outlined a $51.7 billion budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2011 calling for $32.1 billion in general funds spending, leaving a budget hole of $4.7 billion.

In addition, Risinger said, the budget plan does nothing to address a $6 billion backlog of unpaid bills, opting to push them into the next budget year.

“I honestly believe that he didn’t give us a balanced budget. The Constitution requires him to do that, and if you can borrow to balance the budget, well you can balance any budget — just say you are going to borrow more money,” Risinger said.

“Borrowing doesn’t get us out of trouble. It’s like having a $20,000 debt on your credit card, and getting a home equity loan to pay it off with a lower interest rate, which is good, but then not cutting up the credit card and running the balance back up. We have to stop that — and the sooner the better. We should have stopped it five years ago.”

Quinn is asking for a 33 percent income tax increase.

“I was listening for some things that he didn’t say. One of the things I wanted to hear him say — and I think my constituents want to hear — is his promise to veto any new programs or any expansion of programs,” Risinger said.

“He is proposing a 1 percent increase in the state income tax rate to avoid spending cuts for education, but the 1 percent generates more money than is needed for education. So, what’s he going to do with the extra — is he going to pay down debt? What is he going to do with it? He didn’t say.”

Quinn also didn’t say he expects all of us to tighten our belts more, but he must expect it.

The Illinois Policy Institute, which describes itself as a nonpartisan research organization dedicated to supporting free market principles and liberty-based public policy initiatives for a better Illinois, said, “According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the average Midwestern household is made up of 2.4 persons and has before-tax income of $61,063. Let’s say they have taxable income of $50,000. They’d pay an additional $500 in taxes under Gov. Quinn’s plan, on top of the $1,500 they’re already paying in state income taxes, for a total of $2,000.”

The institute asks a good question: “What should families cut from their household budgets to make room for higher tax bills?”

“Should we buy less food?” they ask.

I usually only eat one meal a day as it is. And, I don’t know if the 13-year-old and 12-year-old in my house could cut back to eight meals a day and survive.

“Cut back on insurance coverage?” they ask.

If I eat any less food, I’m going to really need that insurance.

“Move into cheaper housing?” they ask.

The only cheaper housing I can move into would be a refrigerator box. But, I have to buy a refrigerator to get it. That kinds of defeats the purpose.

“Buy fewer books?” they ask.

The last new book I got was a copy of “The Associated Press Stylebook,” and my employer gave me that. What a barn-burner.

“Forgo the next haircut?” they ask.

My wife has cut my hair for more than 30 years.

“Cancel the upcoming road trip to grandma’s house?” they ask.

We have no grandmas to visit.

“Save less for retirement?” they ask.

Retirement! You’ve got to be kidding. Retirement is for Caterpillar executives and District 150 administrators.

It seems I don’t have much room to cut.

What about you?