Quinn’s decision to postpone tax could cause harm

On Thursday Governor Pat Quinn signed into law a twenty six billion dollar state budget. The budget includes no tax increase and relies on cuts of about 15 percent to social services, layoffs and furlough days for state workers, and delays in payments to vendors. Quinn has said he will pursue a ta…On Thursday Governor Pat Quinn signed into law a twenty six billion dollar state budget. The budget includes no tax increase and relies on cuts of about 15 percent to social services, layoffs and furlough days for state workers, and delays in payments to vendors.

Quinn has said he will pursue a tax increase in January, when he thinks the Legislature will be more favorable to the idea.

The cuts in the current budget will be damaging to families and workers across Illinois, and postponing a tax increase is the wrong decision for the state.

As we have written before, cuts to social services balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable citizens. Reduced state funding will mean cutbacks at food pantries, homeless shelters, and child care providers around the state. The budget “frees up” 2.2 billion in supplementary funds for social services through borrowing to meet pension obligations, but this is another irresponsible choice that will only worsen the state’s financial prospects in the future.

The budget’s impact will be felt in the families of state workers as well.

Barring negotiations with the union over alternatives, twenty six hundred workers will be laid off and all state workers will be forced to take one furlough day each month over the next year.

This amounts to a salary cut of about 5 percent, a serious threat for households living paycheck to paycheck as it is. With unemployment in Illinois over 10 percent, state employees who are laid off will have a difficult time re-entering the work force. The layoffs and salary cuts in the budget will hurt the state’s already fragile economy.

The budget signed by Quinn yesterday relies on three and a half billion dollars in borrowing that only digs the state into a deeper fiscal hole for the future. The state is desperately in need of revenue, and it is irresponsible to balance the budget on the backs of state workers and the needy. Fighting for a tax increase takes political moxie, but postponing a tax increase only hurts the state’s economy and residents.