After the longest—and arguably one of the strangest—sessions in Illinois history, there is finally some good news coming out of Springfield. This good news is not just a list of what we have accomplished this spring (although many admirable bills did pass), but the more laudable accomplishments were the proposals that the General Assembly was able to beat back.
This session had a strange way of uniting members across the aisle in a way that has not been seen in decades. Together, we were able to defeat Governor Blagojevich’s gross receipts tax, stop his proposed payroll tax on employers and completely bypass the governor’s original budget, which encompassed the largest spending increase in Illinois’ history.
The final budget that we passed was a “live-within-our-means” budget that only spent natural revenue growth. This was a big victory for fiscal sanity over irresponsibility.
In my last column, a mere six months ago, I was preparing many of you to battle a gross receipts tax that would have been the largest single tax increase in the latter half of the 20th century. Due in large part to the unity shown through these trying times and the solidarity within the business community which these events fomented, you can now stand tall on your laurels and declare victory—at least for now.
To think these issues are dead forever, though, would be a gross misunderstanding of the fight that lies within our governor. As a former golden gloves boxer, Blagojevich is not one to admit to his concussions, and it is crucial that the unity shown over the past six months continues, so that we can confront the challenges we need to face together.
We must convince our state leadership that good jobs are created when businesses are encouraged to grow and invest in their employees. There is fierce competition for jobs in vibrant markets, and employees accept positions based on incentives to work for any one particular company. One of these incentives is health insurance. In an ideal market, insurance offerings become a recruitment tool and a retention incentive.
What our governor must come to understand is that a state cannot tax itself into fiscal solvency. New programs must be created only when there are new, dedicated revenue streams to fund them. These streams are created when businesses are allowed to thrive. This is a lesson we must continue to take to Springfield and Washington alike. IBI