By Kristina Rasmussen -
Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Bob Flider joined Tony Sarabia on WBEZ radio earlier this week, which you can listen to here.
His interview was one in a long line of “doom and gloom” story placements trying to make it politically safer for elected officials to violate their promise that the 2011 income tax hike would be temporary.
Even though the state budget is only expecting a 5 percent drop in revenues next year, far more drastic changes are supposedly in store over at the Department of Agriculture.
Here’s what Flider had to say about the impact of upcoming tax relief for all Illinoisans on his ability to spend money:
“If we see a revenue cut, by the reduction of the tax rate, it is going to cut our general revenue fund by about 27 percent. That could include our ability to – or affect our ability to – inspect meat, make sure the consumers are safe. It will affect our ability to insure that the grain elevator system is safe.
“… In terms of helping our food economy, and maintain jobs, that would all be drastically affected by this budget.”
I’ll admit to struggling with the credibility of these claims, since I’ve seen a very different tune sung by the same source.
Here’s the same Bob Flider, then an incumbent Democrat legislator, answering a candidate questionnaire on that same income tax hike on October 27, 2010 – just weeks before voters dumped him from his office as a of state representative:
“I do not support an income tax increase because Illinois families are struggling. Many have lost their jobs or seen their work hours cut back. They need relief, not more financial burdens. …
“Those crafting the budget can only authorize spending based upon available funds. In other words, the state cannot spend more money than it has available.”
Pretty cut and dry, right? Funny how times change.
As I mentioned, Flider didn’t win his election, and he went on to vote for the tax hike as a lame duck. Shortly thereafter, he landed a plum posting in the administration of Gov. Pat Quinn, heading up the Department of Agriculture.
We’ve heard no shortage of doomsday scenarios from the various state agencies in recent weeks, some coordinated with the governor’s office.
Even though Quinn, lawmakers and the various agency heads will have had three years and more than $30 billion in new revenue to balance the budget, the state’s fiscal condition is still a mess.
Hence the scare tactics to bully through a continuation of the tax hike – which is costing the typical family an extra $1,000 each year.
Give us more money, they’re threatening, or we’ll shut off the poison control hotline and kick Grandma out of the nursing home.
Now, apparently, we have to worry about dirty meat as well.
Sorry, but I’m not buying it. Giving politicians more money will only perpetuate the crisis. They’ve shown no inclination to reform state government when the state was flush, and they’ll do no better if they’re allowed to keep their open tab.
Our Budget Solutions 2015 alternative budget lays out a menu of reasonable measures that the state can use to balance the budget without extending the tax hike.
No doomsday scenarios, no scare tactics.
The bottom line is this: There is absolutely no excuse for lawmakers to not allow the tax hike to sunset.
Kristina Rasmussen is Executive Vice President of the Illinois Policy Institute