Illinois government is getting larger and becoming financially dependent on questionable personal behaviors. Here's 3 examples from this week's legislative action alone:
1. STRIP CLUBS: If Governor Quinn signs HB 1645 into law, on January 1, 2014, every person that walks into a nude bar or strip club will have to pay a $3 tax to the state. HB 1645 allows "live adult entertainment facilities" to pay the tax either per person or at one time, from $5,000 to $25,000 annually, depending on their businesses' gross revenue. SB 1645 unanimously passed the Illinois House and Senate.
2. GAMBLING: The Illinois House passed legislation this week to expand gambling in Illinois with five new casinos, including one in Chicago. In addition, video slot machines will be added at horse race tracks. If this expansion bill passes the Senate, Illinois will become even more dependent on destructive gambling behavior.
3. SMOKING: The Illinois legislature passed two bills Thursday that are part of a package to reduce the $2.7 billion Medicaid hole in the state budget while expanding Obamacare in Cook County. The last part of the package is a $1 per pack cigarette tax. The anticipated tax hike will increase Cook County cigs to nearly $100 per carton.
These are three behaviors that Illinois now needs to encourage in order to meet budget gaps. So, which is it? Do we encourage these behaviors in order to get the expected revenue into Illinois treasuries? Or do we discourage these activities because in the long run it costs everyone - including innocent family members and neighbors - not just the participants.