Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka on Wednesday released the following statement in response to General Assembly discussion of a tax package aimed at assisting employers and residents in need:
“As members of the General Assembly consider moving forward with a proposed tax package for employers and low-income residents, I encourage them to add an item to the discussion: revenue. At minimum, any tax package being considered would total $250 million annually, and that’s on top of already-growing state liabilities. Those escalating costs cannot just be ignored.
“Today our state has unpaid bills totaling more than $8 billion in my office and at the state agencies, dating back to July 8 here and even earlier in the case of some healthcare bills. Businesses, schools, hospitals, social service and not-for-profit agencies are waiting months at a time for payments they are owed. Already underfunded, Medicaid costs are expected to rise another $800 million next fiscal year, and our pension payment in 2013 will be $950 million more than the current year’s total. Clearly, this is not the time for increased spending.
“If lawmakers determine that a new tax package is necessary, they must also identify a way to address these growing costs. To that end, I have consistently supported gambling legislation that allows for a casino in Chicago because it will bring-in much-needed revenue without raising fees or taxes. I still believe that is the best option. If the General Assembly and Governor disagree but want to proceed with new spending, then they must identify another way to pay it.
“One thing is clear: the ‘spend now, pay later’ culture of state government must change – and the time is now.”