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False equivalence taken too far

Monday, Jul 28, 2014

* The AP’s Chicago bureau claims that both gubernatorial candidates “are playing a little fast and loose” with budget numbers. But so is the AP

Under Rauner’s plan, the rate would drop to 3.75 percent in January then be scaled back over four years to 3 percent.

Except Rauner has also said he’s open to raising the rate after January’s scheduled drop. No mention of that in the piece.

…Adding… This commenter accurately points to yet another big problem with the AP story

“Under Rauner’s plan, the rate would drop to 3.75 percent in January”

“rolling back the rates as scheduled on Jan. 1, which Rauner supports”

That is–at present–the plan for Quinn, too. Quinn signed the sunsetting increase into law and signed a budget that includes that drop.

Exactly. Rolling the rate back to 3.75 percent come January 1st isn’t “Rauner’s plan,” it’s current state law.

The AP’s Chicago bureau does a horrible job with state government. They need to let Springfield’s top-notch bureau carry the load.

* And this appears to have been added to make the story look more “even-handed”

Quinn overstates the revenue drop under Rauner’s plan — at least to start.

A report from the non-partisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability says rolling back the rates as scheduled on Jan. 1, which Rauner supports, would reduce revenues by almost $5 billion for the budget year that begins in July 2015 — not $8.5 billion. Rauner says his sales tax plan would generate another roughly $600 million, bringing the total revenue loss to about $4.4 billion. This year’s entire general fund budget is $35.7 billion.

The larger drop in revenue would come later, when the rates would be lowered to pre-2011 levels.

The number the Quinn campaign is using is accurate because they’ve never said it was the immediate impact.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


11 Comments
  1. - Jimmy - Monday, Jul 28, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    Obviously, getting revenue projections correct in light of Kanerva v. Weems is critical so we know just how big a problem the state has in dealing with its debt. The recent Illinois Supreme Court decision has generated a lot of concern on the revenues needed to pay state and local governments’ retiree obligations - and this may be a good thing for non-traditional revenue ideas. New or not-so-new revenue ideas in Illinois may be a lot more feasible now, post-Karnerva v. Weems, to avoid additional tax increases and draconian cuts to spending. In light of Karnerva, I’m thinking that significant gaming expansion and marijuana legalization should get a closer look by Illinois’ legislature in the very near future.

    Having 5-6 casinos in downtown Chicago and legal pot sales would generate of lot of revenue, something big business, unions and public sector retirees could all get behind (unlike a financial services transaction tax) to avert a financial disaster. Would it be enough to pay all the debt? Probably not. Would it be enough to prevent the tax increases and cuts from causing real estate prices to drop and panic voters? Maybe. Do either of the candidates have the guts to make this argument? Probably not…

    I think Rauner - maybe more so than Quinn - may be thinking outside the box and seeing this angle. He just won’t articulate it until after the election.

    I think it would be great if the two candidates could focus on new revenue ideas for the State instead of arguing over how much they want to extract from traditional revenue sources.


  2. - Chris - Monday, Jul 28, 14 @ 11:48 am:

    “Under Rauner’s plan, the rate would drop to 3.75 percent in January”

    “rolling back the rates as scheduled on Jan. 1, which Rauner supports”

    That is–at present–the plan for Quinn, too. Quinn signed the sunsetting increase into law and signed a budget that includes that drop.

    Saying “I don’t support the bill that I signed” is trying to have it both ways. Pat Quinn owns the entire situation with the SIT rate change.


  3. - DuPage Dave - Monday, Jul 28, 14 @ 11:52 am:

    This is now the part of the campaign that makes people crazy- arguing over numbers, which numbers are more accurate, which numbers reflect leadership or incompetence.

    Numbers are a code for trust, i.e., you can trust me more than you can trust him- to handle the money, to make the right decisions, to not be a crook.


  4. - Makandadawg - Monday, Jul 28, 14 @ 12:03 pm:

    Rich, thanks for keeping an eye on AP. Their stories get reprinted all over Illinois with little vetting by the outlets. The Devil is in the details as we get closer to the election.


  5. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Jul 28, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    AP does this a lot. You’re right that John O’Connor and the others in Springfield do a great job but the Chicago folks are completely clueless. ARGH.


  6. - Soccermom - Monday, Jul 28, 14 @ 2:07 pm:

    I think that campaigns and electeds sometimes cynically take stories to the Chicago bureau that they know the Springfield folks would never swallow. But I don’t know why the Springfield bureau is not running a correction this morning.


  7. - Anon - Monday, Jul 28, 14 @ 2:49 pm:

    At least the AP makes it clear that Rauner would face a huge hole in his first budget that his service taxes wouldn’t come close to patching.


  8. - Dirty Red - Monday, Jul 28, 14 @ 2:51 pm:

    People who major in journalism to get away from doing math probably should not be writing stories about state finances.


  9. - walker - Monday, Jul 28, 14 @ 3:07 pm:

    Numbers are correct or wrong, given the same assumptions. In this case the AP is reporting the Republican spin more than checking the arithmetic for accuracy.

    In fact in the short term, there’s little discernable difference between Rauner and Quinn, except that Quinn has already provided more details and presented a plan that matches the numbers — which didn’t get GA support.


  10. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Jul 28, 14 @ 11:29 pm:

    @Rich -

    The AP story looks more to me like some quick revisionism by the Rauner Crew to walk back Rauner’s plan.

    Rauner was clearly hoping people would see his wink-wink on the 3.75% tax rate and keep walking.

    He clearly is begging Democrats to strike a deal to raise the rate back to 5%.

    No. Chance.

    Especially not now that he says his plan is to lead efforts to put Radogno and Durkin in charge.

    If there is going to be a tax hike, he is going to have to propose it, in his budget address, and Radogno and Durkin and their top budget leaders are all going to have to lead the charge.


  11. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 7:05 am:

    ===looks more to me like some quick revisionism by the Rauner Crew to walk back===

    Nah. Just lazy reporting.


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