Chris Essig

Walkthroughs, tips and tricks from a data journalist in eastern Iowa

Taxes, taxes and more taxes

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You know the state’s finances are dire when hundreds (maybe thousands) gather to rally for tax increases:

SPRINGFIELD – A swelling, multibillion dollar deficit has left Illinois months behind in its payments to providers across the state.

For instance, the Williamson County Early Childhood Cooperative in Southern Illinois is planning to send layoff notices to its 41 employees in the next few weeks because money from the state has not come through.

Director Linda Drust was at the Capitol on Wednesday as part of a rally for an income tax increase.

“It’s dire right now,” she said. “It’s important that the state comes up with a solution to solve the problems. What we’re doing is holding our young children and parents hostage.”

Of course, whether a tax increase of any sort is political viable is a completely different question:

“I’m just being a realist here. In an election year, I don’t see a lot of people voting for this even though they know we need it,” [state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg] said.

The scene at the Capitol on Wednesday was pretty chaotic and made navigation difficult. Fortunately, I was able to get the information for antidotal led well before the speeches started. At 11 a.m. the Capitol was so packed, security had to temporarily close it for an hour.

The rally was designed to lobby in support of House Bill 174, which would increase income and corporate taxes, but that wasn’t the full extent of tax talk on Wednesday. Another proposal for progressive tax increase was also floated in a separate news conference:

Amendments proposed by state Sens. Kwane Raoul, D-Chicago, Michael Frerichs, D-Gifford, and Ed Maloney, D-Chicago, would implement a progressive tax structure but wouldn’t increase taxes. If one was approved by the General Assembly, it would be on the November ballot for the voters to decide.

“This is not a tax increase,” Raoul said. “This is something that just allows us to have a debate without the barrier of this constitutional mandate.”

And, of course, the flurry of activity came as more bad fiscal news came the state’s way. In another news conference, the National Conference of State Legislatures emphasized Illinois was not allow in fiscal battles:

“Across the country we’ve been hearing words like ‘grim,’ ‘dire,’ ‘guarded,’ and ‘cautious,” said Arturo Perez, a fiscal analyst with the NCSL.

So for about three hours on Wednesday, action at the Capitol was non-stop. And it all dealt with one issue: the state’s horrific fiscal climate.

All in day’s work…

Image posted by Flickr user alancleaver_2000. It is used under a Creative Commons license.

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Written by csessig

February 19, 2010 at 1:02 pm

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