Sales tax holiday nothing more than gimmick

Starting Friday, Illinois taxpayers will enjoy a sales tax holiday, at the expense of the state that voted for the irresponsible measure.

Starting Friday, Illinois taxpayers will enjoy a sales tax holiday, at the expense of the state that voted for the irresponsible measure.

Illinois ended fiscal year 2010 in “the worst fiscal position in its history,” according to a quarterly report by State Comptroller Dan Hynes. Knowing those numbers, it doesn’t make any sense to decrease income and give taxpayers a sales tax holiday.

Although many Illinois taxpayers will enjoy the sales tax holiday while it lasts, this is not the way to solve our problems long-term.

Illinois’ budget problems are serious and far-reaching, with billions of dollars in unpaid bills and a legislature unwilling to pass an income tax, but also critical of budget cuts. However, one path that surely is not going to get us out of the situation we’re in is a tax holiday, especially the week-long holiday that is planned to cut tens of millions from the state’s income.

Of course, Illinois taxpayers are struggling to pay their bills and support their families, but that $60 million could be better used to help our citizens get the services they need, create jobs and increase funding for state programs.

It doesn’t seem the General Assembly is understanding reality as it continues to search for a way to escape the financial crunch without raising taxes and without slashing services, an outcome that’s simply not possible and slipping further away with the passing of each day of inaction.

Whether more shoppers will head to the stores because of the tax holiday, we’re not sure, but people were planning to shop during the back-to-school period anyway.

Although the intentions are right on — make sure Illinois students have the equipment and tools they need to go back to the classroom — maybe those millions could have been better used to fund the struggling education system in the state. The students may be saving a few cents on their pencil cases today, but once we send them into an overcrowded classroom with out-of-date textbooks, how much will those small savings really matter?

The argument that the sales tax holiday will create new jobs doesn’t hold any weight either. Although stores may need to hire new employees for the back-to-school rush, those jobs will be temporary and those workers will be back searching for a permanent paycheck within the month.

The idea of a sales tax holiday is a gimmick, a campaign ploy that sounds great for the lawmakers and the taxpayers, but on actual examination, is anything but a solution to the state’s financial problems.