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Topinka: Find a “real” revenue source for tax cut plan

Thursday, Dec 1, 2011

* State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka warned legislators that they needed to come up with a “real” funding source for the tax cut package, and suggested gaming expansion as a possibility. “Heck, people are going to gamble anyway, we might as well be able to collect,” Topinka said.

The General Assembly wants to use $250 million in increased revenues next fiscal year from the expiration of a federal tax program, but Topinka says that money was already expected and legislators need to find new revenues. The comptroller said she even supported gaming at the State Fair, which sits empty most of the year. Gov. Pat Quinn flatly rejected that idea and has threatened to veto the rest of the gaming bill because it’s too “top heavy.”

Topinka says there’s currently $4.3 billion in overdue bills sitting in her office, plus another $1.9 billion in vouchers that agencies haven’t even submitted to her yet, $1.2 billion in unpaid employee health insurance, $500 million in overdue corporate tax refunds and $400 million in interfund repayments. “So that’s $8.3 billion we’re on the hook for right now while the legislature is considering, again, coming up with a Christmas tree worth of goodies here for a minimum of $250 million annually. If you’re going to do this then you’d better have a funding source. You’d better figure it out, you’d better have a funding source, because right now you don’t.

* Also in the interview, Topinka said people should “quit demonizing the state employees” over their pensions. She said she wanted to see some pension reforms because the current system is “unsustainable,” but wants to “see if there’s anything we can do without hurting the folks who have been paying right along.”

Listen…

* Related…

* Link: Wait until next year on gaming bill

*Gambling bill put on hold again

- Posted by Rich Miller        


42 Comments
  1. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 9:59 am:

    Memo TO JBT: Look before you leap.

    The revenue id’d for the tax breaks WAS NOT counted already.
    If it was counted it would have been spent in May.

    But hey it got you the lead on the Capt. Fax Blog — does that still count when it happens on a day he is sick?


  2. - can't believe i'm saying this, but - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:03 am:

    I agree with Judy. Just because you appropriate it doesn’t mean you can pay for it.


  3. - Left Out - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:09 am:

    Lets assume that the revenue identified for tax breaks was not counted already. In this case I think it would be better ’spent’ that revenue on paying the states outstanding debts than giving people tax breaks or on any new spending.


  4. - Slick Rick - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:12 am:

    It’s a shame really. The GA has never been closer to passing a gaming expansion bill as they were his year but the actions of Quinn/Jaffe set us back 10 years.

    After attacking the bill all summer, Quinn honestly expects to cut a deal by January?!?! What’s he thinking?

    I feel bad for Link/Lang who will have to deal with PQ’s madness for the next 2 months.


  5. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:14 am:

    I would vote for JBT for governor again. *sigh*


  6. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:16 am:

    –Also in the interview, Topinka said people should “quit demonizing the state employees” over their pensions. She said she wanted to see some pension reforms because the current system is “unsustainable,” but wants to “see if there’s anything we can do without hurting the folks who have been paying right along.”–

    Take that, Civic Committee. Good for JBT.


  7. - just sayin' - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:16 am:

    Right, encourage people to gamble more in a recession as a way to fund special tax breaks for the wealthy.

    Once again Topinka reminds us why she lost the gov’s race to a man everyone knew was going to be indicted.


  8. - Doug Dobmeyer - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:21 am:

    Judy is wrong for several reasons:

    1. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you need to do it. Gambling was authorized 20 years ago w/o Chgo in the mix. Most of us who oppose Illinois becoming a Nevada simply recognize moderation makes more sense than extremism.

    There is no point in having a large share of the population gambling becoming potentially addicted when it doesn’t have to be that way.

    Society still has an obligation to protect it’s citizens from the possibility of losing their money in games that everyone knows favor the house. The alternative is the state becomes no better than the house in exploiting people.

    Illinois has 10 casinos. Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri have casinos that people from Illinois can gamble at.

    The faucet is not being turned off, in fact it is running freely.

    2.) Oversaturation is an issue the state needs to be fully aware of and protect it’s citizens from.

    Doug Dobmeyer


  9. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:22 am:

    ===Right, encourage people to gamble more in a recession===

    Shouldn’t individuals have the right to spend their money on legal activities?


  10. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:22 am:

    ===Oversaturation is an issue the state needs to be fully aware of and protect it’s citizens from.===

    lol. More like “protect its current monopoly owners from.”


  11. - mokenavince - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:23 am:

    Judy is way to smart for the group in Sprinfield.
    To bad see’s not Governor, we all diserve and swift kick in the pants for not electing her.
    This is away top easy to understand,Quinn will never figure it out.I think Quinn’s brain is top heavy.


  12. - dave - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:24 am:

    **The revenue id’d for the tax breaks WAS NOT counted already.
    If it was counted it would have been spent in May.**

    This is absolutely false.

    First, the revenue has nothing to do with this fiscal year, so what happened last May is irrelevant.

    Second, the revenue is absolutely not new revenue. It is the status quo, where IL will see a slight increase in revenue after (and only if) the federal depreciation laws expire.

    The state is facing a massive amount of back bills, as well as significant mandatory increases in spending next year (pensions, medicaid). The “plan” to “pay for” the CME welfare package is to use GRF money that is and was already expected to come in.

    Every legislature knows that this bill is not actually “paid for.”


  13. - Slick Rick - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:29 am:

    “I think Quinn’s brain is top heavy.”
    ————————

    Too bad there is no way to LIKE a comment like you do on Facebook. This comment had the whole office laughing to tears!


  14. - just sayin' - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:34 am:

    “Shouldn’t individuals have the right to spend their money on legal activities?”

    Yes, but when the state is an actor the issue becomes what’s appropriate policy and where does the state focus its limited resources. There’s a legitimate concern about the state enouraging even more gambling when there are already plenty of ample opportunities around the state. Going back to that well is a cop out fiscally. Can’t fix the state on the backs of gamblers. And in many cases it’s the state exploiting an addiction.


  15. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:48 am:

    ==And in many cases it’s the state exploiting an addiction. ==

    You mean like the taxes on tobacco products.


  16. - Justin - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:53 am:

    == You mean like the taxes on tobacco products. ==

    That’s different, tobacco costs the state money, the taxes are their to recoup that cost.

    Gambling is free money for the state.


  17. - chi - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:56 am:

    It is so refreshing to hear good common sense coming from an Illinois Republican.


  18. - walkinfool - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:57 am:

    Judy’s talking sense. Quite a contrast to Rutherford lately.


  19. - just sayin' - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:58 am:

    Cheryl44, yes some similarities. But the state would never consider legislation or ads to promote more smoking. In fact the government is always spending money to reduce smoking. And a former gov like Edgar would never do a radio ad talking about the need for expanding smoking as a way to help the agriculture industry, even though that case could be made with a straighter face than in the case of slots at racetracks. At least tobacco has a direct nexis to farming. Slot machines, not so much.


  20. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 10:59 am:

    –That’s different, tobacco costs the state money, the taxes are their to recoup that cost.–

    So taxes on tobacco and alcohol go in the Medicaid Fund? C’mon. There were taxes on booze and alcohol long before there was any state role in health care.


  21. - AFSCME Steward - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 11:10 am:

    JBT is one of the few sensible leaders in Illinois. I have happily voted for her every time she ran. Unfortunately, her last campaign for Governor was so poorly run, so we got stuck with the reelection of Blago.


  22. - dupage dan - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 11:12 am:

    JBT - please run for Gov!


  23. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 11:27 am:

    ==Gambling is free money for the state. ==

    LOL No such thing. Ask an economist.


  24. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 11:27 am:

    Justin said “Gambling is free money for the state.”

    Not necessarily. Some studies show increased costs from a gambling addiction … things like theft, domestic violence, even hunger. Quite often these occur in the lower socioeconomic classes, so it is the State, directly or indirectly, that ends up picking up the costs for treating the symptoms of the addiction.

    The other issue is the lost opportunity cost. Most people have a limited budget for what I’ll call “amusement”. If the “amusement” money is spent on gambling, what other business did not get the money … movies, concerts, taverns, penny arcades, the neighborhood bookie? If those businesses make less of a profit, they pay less in State taxes or may even go out of business; again, a cost to the State in the form of reduced revenues.

    You might be able to argue the costs are less than the revenues earned from gambling, but the cost is not zero.

    I’m not opposed to gambling by responsible people, i.e., consenting adults … but not everyone is responsible …


  25. - reformer - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 11:42 am:

    Cheryl44
    If the State said it wanted to triple cigarette use to raise revenue, we’d all recognize the harm to public health. The Lang-Link Casinopalooza bill would’ve more than tripled the number of casino gambling positions, with a foreseeable but under-recognized social cost.


  26. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 11:45 am:

    reformer, Prohibition showed we shouldn’t make policy for the majority because of the addiction harm done to a small minority.


  27. - Foxfire - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 12:49 pm:

    I agree 100% with this statement, but what is the plan? If politicians don’t have a solution or an idea, they ought to save us from their hollow commentary.

    Topinka said people should “quit demonizing the state employees” over their pensions. She said she wanted to see some pension reforms because the current system is “unsustainable,” but wants to “see if there’s anything we can do without hurting the folks who have been paying right along.”


  28. - Dirty Red - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 12:56 pm:

    There are over 8 billion reasons that money is counted for. JBT seems to be saying that if lawmakers want to give CME/Sears tax money, then they need to raise additional revenue since the money coming in is already spoken for.

    Don’t foreget: today is Dec. 1, which means there are only 30 days left in fiscal 11.


  29. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 1:02 pm:

    –Don’t foreget: today is Dec. 1, which means there are only 30 days left in fiscal 11.–

    Huh?


  30. - Dirty Red - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 1:10 pm:

    @wordslinger
    Dec. 31 is the last day of fiscal 11’s lapse period.


  31. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 1:17 pm:

    Thanks Dirty Red. I guess I missed the memo that they extended the period to six months.


  32. - Stooges - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 1:18 pm:

    A ton of bad information (and bad typing) on this topic today. If you live in Illinois and haven’t become a regular visitor to a casino even though every region has that opportunity, how will slots at tracks or increases in gaming positions create more addictions to gambling? Let people spend their money where they want to. If a casino closes due to lack of interest, then we can say we’ve saturated the market.

    And the state’s fiscal year 2011 ends on June 30, 2011, by the way.


  33. - Stooges - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 1:19 pm:

    I meant fiscal year 2011 ended on June 30, 2010.


  34. - Stooges - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 1:20 pm:

    Whatever, you know what I mean.


  35. - Dirty Red - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 1:33 pm:

    Stooges - But we are still in fiscal year 2011’s lapse period, which used to only go until September, but was extended to the end of December because of the increasing size of the backlog. The only thing that really ended on June 30, 2011, was revenue collections for fiscal 11.


  36. - Dirty Red - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 1:36 pm:

    @ slinger
    Fiscal 11 is the first year that was true. It was part of the budget bill Madigan sponsored back in the spring. If the backlog continues to grow and the Legislature continues to extend the lapse period, then there is the very real possibility that we’ll be in three fiscal years at once.


  37. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 1:44 pm:

    Only Judy can be wrong on the facts and still come to the right conclusion.

    Her point is well-taken that any discussion of new tax breaks should be viewed in the context of the overall budget picture and the prudence of those particular tax expenditures ought to be measured against the same Budgeting for Results yardstick by which we measure all other expenditures.

    For example, which would create/preserve more jobs: $1.4 Billion in current tax expenditures and $100 million new ones, or lowering the overall corporate and/or personal income tax rates? I don’t know the answer, but I find myself in rare agreement with Tom Cross that we ought to be having that discussion.

    On Gambling:

    There are three types of gamblers: addicts, people who can’t do math, and those who can do the math but choose to gamble as a form of recreation anyway, even knowing they are gonna lose. In my observations, the vast majority of revenue comes from the first two classes of gamblers, although I would welcome any research from the industry or independent sources to the contrary.

    But if its the case that casinos are making most of their money off of people who have either a psychological illness or a cognitive deficiency, I’d say that gambling is by-and-large a predatory industry, in which case the state ought to safeguard the public to atleast the same degree it safeguards the public from predatory lending.


  38. - Happy Returns - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 2:17 pm:

    ” Fiscal 11 is the first year that was true.”
    No, they did it for fy10 too.


  39. - sadie - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 2:29 pm:

    Compulsive gambling is an addiction, addiction to nicotine (smoking) is an addiction, there is alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction - all three of these areas are sources of revenue to the State of Illinois and great pain to individuals and families impacted by them - and or course illicit drug use is a substance use disorder as is misuse of prescription pain medication


  40. - joe bunzol - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 3:31 pm:

    Why does no one comment about all the money lost on the lottery. I know people who blow their paycheck within an hour of cashing it on lottery tickets. You can by those anywhere.


  41. - dave - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 5:45 pm:

    **Compulsive gambling is an addiction, addiction to nicotine (smoking) is an addiction, there is alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction - all three of these areas are sources of revenue to the State of Illinois and great pain to individuals and families impacted by them**

    Sure…but you could argue that the way that IL gets revenue from tobacco and alcohol actually disincentivizes the use of those things, whereas the same argument can’t be made on the gambling side.


  42. - tack - Thursday, Dec 1, 11 @ 7:35 pm:

    Topinka nailed it. If people are going to gamble anyway, which they will, Illinois might as well get the revenue. Better us than Indiana or Iowa.


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