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Unclear on the concepts

Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014

* Sen. Kirk Dillard unveiled a proposal yesterday to lower the state’s gasoline sales tax by 3 percentage points and then using the remaining 2 percent state sales tax to fund a $1 billion capital program for roads and bridges

“This will save a typical family in Illinois nearly $200 a year while also putting people to work on road and bridge projects that are in dire need of repair,” Dillard said in a press release.

OK, first of all, in nominal dollars, Illinois’ gross state product was $644 billion in 2012. So, a $1 billion construction project represents just 0.16 percent of GSP. Not a lot of relative growth from something like that.

More importantly, though, the plan would cut state coffers by $550 million (including the $100 million taken out of circulation for capital projects). How would he cover that hole? By “growing the economy,” Dillard told reporters yesterday.

Sorry, but hope ain’t a plan.

* Then there were the contradictions

“Illinois has two taxes on gas and I propose, using, getting rid of the second one — as I long have,” said Dillard, who noted the state also has a 19-cent per gallon tax on gasoline. […]

Dillard in the past has recommended shifting revenues from the sales tax on gasoline to replace the use of video poker money as a source for state bond-funded public works projects. On Monday, he said video poker was in Illinois to stay.

Dillard is finally getting closer scrutiny from the Chicago media, and it ain’t great. Natasha Korecki points out a few in her most recent column and ends it this way

When the Sun-Times asked Dillard whether rumors were true that he was thinking about voting against the pension bill to keep the possibility open for union support, Dillard was adamant: “I always supported pension reform,” he said then. “I can’t imagine I wouldn’t be [in support].”

He then voted against it.

So taking it all into account is Dillard’s clout issue just “one story”?

Maybe.

But if he isn’t careful, doubts about his credibility may begin to look like a “perpetual pattern.”

* Not to mention that Dillard and two of the other three Republican candidates definitely want the state income tax to sunset on schedule, which blows a $3.6 billion hole in state revenues the first full year of implementation, according to the governor’s budget office.

With that in mind

[Sen. Bill Brady], the only GOP candidate for governor who supported a new law in December curbing state employee pension increases aimed at closing the state’s $100 billion unfunded liability, also said the measure’s passage would mean the scheduled reduction in the state’s income tax rate should go on as scheduled in January 2015.

“It will save us at least $1 billion or $1.2 billion in the first year, which lets the income tax go away,” Brady said.

Only in Fantasyland is that even remotely true.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


28 Comments
  1. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 9:50 am:

    Dillard is imploding. Brady and Rutherford are invisible. Is it any wonder why Rauner is leading?


  2. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:00 am:

    Geez, how long has Dillard had to get this gas tax story straight? The Trib really put the wood to him.

    I think Cinci has confused the issue at least half a dozen times here trying to explain it.

    Cowboy up, dude, and take a personal interest in your business.


  3. - Anon - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:01 am:

    The backlog of state bills and the projected budget deficit (Quinn says it will be $16.2B by 2016) makes it irresponsible to further reduce state revenues. What happened to the conservatives who believed in paying their bills on time and to balanced budgets?


  4. - William j Kelly - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:01 am:

    Now if only Dillard would learn a lesson from rauner and figure out a way to make 32million on some gas company deal that goes bad. Then he would be ahead in the polls and have everyone eating out of his hands!


  5. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:06 am:

    Growing the economy is a popular refrain from people who want to lower taxes, but don’t want to truly address the revenue problem it creates. I don’t believe in the cut taxes, increase revenue theory anyway, but if you do you have to at least acknowledge that there will be a time period where you are taking in less revenue. It’s simple math.


  6. - Linus - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:09 am:

    - Only in Fantasyland is that even remotely true. -

    Absolutely. And it will remain enormously important for news media to start (or continue!) laying-out the full set of facts for readers and listeners: Even with recently passed pension reforms, the state’s budget is going to steer far more sharply into trouble if the income-tax increase is allowed to expire on schedule.

    And that means billions of dollars of cuts in education, health care, public safety, etc.

    And that - in turn - demands specific answers from politicians who would let this happen: Where, precisely, would you cut? And by how much?

    If you propose “cutting waste,” tell us: Exactly what waste? What’s the price tag?

    Letting candidates continue to slide on such details is tantamount to malpractice by those who report the news as well as by voters who say they base their ballot-box decisions on the facts and demand “the truth” from politicos.

    And - the choir has been preached to, yet again.


  7. - In the Middle - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:14 am:

    Puzzling.

    So, we’d lose $3.6 billion but supposedly gain $1.2 billion and that means we can sunset the state income tax?


  8. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:19 am:

    The best part of the Tribune story is at the bottom. Teens from the Mikva Challenge asked the candidates what their favorite TV show was. Brady answered Bonanza and Rutherford said Sea Hunt.

    I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. Good stuff.


  9. - Ahoy! - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    So Dillard supported raising the gas tax before he was for lowering the gas tax to magically create new revenue? I buy it.


  10. - Frank - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:25 am:

    While we’ve all spent a lot of time this campaign season comparing Bruce Rauner to Mitt Romney for all the obvious reasons, we’ve missed the similarities between Romney and Kirk Dillard.

    Both made their reputations as moderate problem solvers. Both recognized that would be a hindrance to their primary campaigns. Both ran from their past political positions in order to avoid being disqualified by conservative voters.

    Romney went so far as to come out against his signature accomplishment as governor — healthcare reform. Dillard has, throughout this campaign, tied himself in knots trying to reconcile his current conservative posturing with past positions on major issues (see minimum wage.)

    They’re certainly not the first pols to run to the right in a Republican primary while planning on shifting to the center in the General. But there is only so much flip-flopping and parsing a candidate can engage in without completely straining their credibility.


  11. - ejhickey - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:25 am:

    “What happened to the conservatives who believed in paying their bills on time and to balanced budgets? ”

    some of us are still here and recongize the need for higher , not lower , taxes. for example illinois needs to start taxing all forms of retirement income.


  12. - langhorne - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:45 am:

    “bettin’ on em don’t make em win.” thats what my dad taught me at arlington park. a very important lesson that applies in most areas of life. dillard is a disappointment. he was supposed to be the tested and ready guy for the job. instead he is floundering all over the place.

    brady, i-almost-won-so-i-will-win-this-time, has standard conservative jargon and little more.

    did they ask their favorite tv show from the early 60s? bonanza was sponsored by rca to sell color tvs. thats why little joe would ride across the beautiful scenery to get help. i cant remember if sea hunt was in color or black and white. sheesh. talk about out of touch.


  13. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 10:55 am:

    47, “Bonanza” I can almost understand. It ran for 16 years and has been in reruns forever.

    “Sea Hunt” requires some explanation, I think. It only ran four years and hasn’t seen much in syndication.

    Did you ever notice that in “Bonanza” the main characters almost always wore the same clothes in every episode, year after year? They filmed scenes from multiple episodes at the same time, so they couldn’t mix it up for continuity.


  14. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    Bonanza. The story of a middle aged man and his middle aged sons.

    When a teen asks you what your favorite television show is, you might want to list something that aired in his or her lifetime.

    I really liked Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea when I was a kid (and it was old then too), but I’d probably say Seinfeld or the Simpsons if asked.

    Still, both Brady and Rutherford answered truthfully. Dillard said Chicago Tonight. Said it with a straight face too, from the WTTW studio.

    Pander much Kirk?


  15. - unspun - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    Maybe Dillard contradicted himself to save his running mate the trouble of doing it? He’s desperate and trying to latch on to any populist idea that may gain traction…


  16. - Wensicia - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    Dillard lost all credibility when he decided to pander to the far right. He hasn’t been called out on it much in the media or by the other candidates because he’s polling so low. But, I suppose you could call his low marks payback for his about face or new positions on many issues.


  17. - PoolGuy - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    actually Illinois’ GSP (or state GDP) was $695 billion in 2012. not questioning your numbers Rich, just not sure of Wiki’s figures since they appear to be BEA numbers also.

    http://www.statista.com/statistics/187863/gdp-of-the-us-federal-state-of-illinois-since-1997/


  18. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:03 pm:

    “…so they couldn’t mix it up for continuity.”

    Interesting. Or so that they had the flexibility to mix and match scenes to come up with an entirely new episode without a lot of additional filming? (Unless that’s what you said?)


  19. - DuPage - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:36 pm:

    Lower the tax on gasoline, that will add money to the state treasury.
    Sounds like a true/false question on a third grade math test. Right next to 2+2=5


  20. - Upon Further Review - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:37 pm:

    I have always felt it was lousy that Illinois taxes the same gallon of gasoline twice.


  21. - Ghost - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 12:46 pm:

    It occurs to me that if the state can use its pice powers to avoid constitutional obligations; then clearly it can use police powers to avoid mere contractual obligations. We have no debt problem, just pass a bill saying we won’t pay our overdue bills due to our fiscal problems under our police powers. After all if the state constitution doesn’t protect rights beyond a declaration of police powers, that includes contractual rights. State fiscal problem solved. We could withhold those fees from companies handling our investments; cancel repaying bonds. Pice powers can rescue us from all debt, if the court upholds it on pensions, there is no obligation we can’t skip out on. Yeah us!


  22. - Statesman - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 2:29 pm:

    It will be a fine day when the primary field is whittled down. That day can’t come soon enough!


  23. - walker - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 2:39 pm:

    Whenever Brady mentions a number, remember your elementary school arithmetic.


  24. - Think About It - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 2:41 pm:

    Common everyone….the point with Dillard is simple….we are paying some of the highest taxes on gas in the country. At least he’s putting some policy out there. Has anyone else? I”d rather he throw it out there and at least try and get our economy back on the right track.

    And speaking Rauner….why didn’t he clout his daughter into his own school “Rauner College Prep”. It’s her family legacy. What….that school isn’t good enough for her either! Unbelievable!! Displace a child who qualifies when she could go to the school with his name on it. His school suddenly isn’t good enough. That tears a big hole in his campaign, now, doesn’t it?


  25. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 2:44 pm:

    “…pice powers…”

    Dearest Ghost, are you talking about rupees or pitchforks, is it your beloved keyboard, or am I just being entirely daft right now?


  26. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 4:34 pm:

    ==I”d rather he throw it out there and at least try and get our economy back on the right track.==

    And put state government deeper in the red.


  27. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 21, 14 @ 11:48 pm:

    You have to respect a guy like Bill Brady.

    Agree with him or not, at least you know what you’re getting.

    The guy is not a phony, like some.


  28. - econ prof - Wednesday, Jan 22, 14 @ 9:07 am:

    If the state would drop the gasoline tax to mirror border states (like Missouri), I think you would see sales tax revenues sky-rocket in border communities. I choose to fill up in Missouri, where gasoline is 24 cents/gal cheaper. Missouri has a plethora of gas stations and truck stops along the border, with parking lots full of cars with Illinois license plates.


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