* There’s more to making Illinois business friendly than handing out tax subsidies or even reforming things like the workers’ compensation system. For instance…
Thousands of Illinois businesses are waiting for the state to pay long-overdue tax refunds, and there’s no sign the wait will end anytime soon.
The state owes money to roughly 36,000 businesses that overpaid their income taxes, going back to 2008. The backlog totals about $850 million, Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said Wednesday. […]
At Peters Machine Inc. in Decatur, President Jerry Nelson said he continues to wait for about $15,000 dating to the 2008 tax year.
“I’ve tried to get answers, but no one seems to be in a position to let me know what’s going to happen,” Nelson told Lee Enterprises newspapers.
Getting businesses the money they’re legally owed can only help the economy as a whole. Whether they get this done by borrowing or cuts or whatever, the General Assembly and the governor shouldn’t stop until they figure out how to pay what we owe.
* Meanwhile, Greg Baise of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association says Gov. Pat Quinn needs to be much more involved with passing workers’ comp reform…
The key is Gov. Pat Quinn, who has been somewhat involved but needs to step it up if a deal is to be reached, Mr. Baise continued.
Mr. Baise conceded that some business leaders are insisting on a stronger deal than he might agree to. But they, too, listen to Caterpillar, he said, referring to the stir the Peoria-based manufacturer raised a few weeks ago when it seemed to suggest it would move out of Illinois unless the state improved its business climate.
As a matter of practical politics, a bill needs to pass in the next couple of weeks, before the Legislature turns to the volatile subjects of remap and the budget, Mr. Baise said.
“If the governor moves forward at all on causation, we can say Illinois is changing its pattern,” he said. Given Caterpillar, the weak economy and other pressures to act, “If we can’t get this one done now, I don’t see how we ever get it done.”
Illinois’ recent income tax increase cannot be temporary, as is currently written in the law, if the state wants to avoid deep cuts to social services, according to one budget expert.
“I think it’s disingenuous for [lawmakers] to have claimed that this is a four-year tax increase that is set to expire. They did the right thing by raising revenue. They did the wrong thing by making it temporary,” said Ralph Martire, director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, a think tank focused on budget policy. “I think one of the most disingenuous pieces of public policy that has been perpetuated on voters and taxpayers for decades now is that they can have public services and never have to pay for them. At some point, you need adequate sustainable revenue raised in a responsible way.”
The governor has said that he wants to ensure the tax hike is temporary, and you won’t find many others who think it should be made permanent. The problem is that nobody in power is willing to do what it takes to make this happen. We’re in for another big budget crisis down the line if incredibly tough decisions aren’t made now.
* Topinka: State will be $8 billion in hole: Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration agreed with Topinka’s calculation. Quinn’s budget office issued a statement, saying Illinois continues to face “serious fiscal challenges due to many years of budget mismanagement.” But the administration firmly stated that borrowing money at low-interest rates to help pay down a mounting backlog of overdue bills is “paramount to stabilizing the budget.”
* IDS Drug Assistance Program cuts draw fire: Agreeing with advocates’ criticism of cuts in the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program announced by the Illinois Department of Public Health, an influential state lawmaker said April 22 she’ll find “excesses” in other parts of the IDPH budget to reverse the cuts.
The best way out of the revenue/expenditure impasse begins with recognizing the fatal flaw in the state constitution; i.e., the requirement that the income tax be flat. The combination of that requirement plus the regressive nature of other state and local taxes such as the sales tax, means that Illinois is a high tax state for low income people and a low tax state for high income people. Amending the constitution is a cumbersome process but in this case the need is so compelling that perhaps it can be done. If so, one could for example roll the income tax back to 3 per cent for the lower income end, raise it to 7% for the high income end, and have adequate and sustainable revenue for a reasonable state budget. This range of percentages is very typical across the country. Hardly any other state has a flat personal income tax.
How smart a move would it be to make it permanent now! It saves them from having to take the heat a second time 4 years from now. They’ve already taken heat for the increase and I can’t see much additional heat for this move, at least among those who might have still actually voted for them.
“Getting businesses the money they’re legally owed can only help the economy as a whole. Whether they get this done by borrowing or cuts or whatever, the General Assembly and the governor shouldn’t stop until they figure out how to pay what we owe.”
That’s absolutely right, and another strong argument for a reasonable, debt-restructuring plan that can help get our long-overdue bills paid and off the books. Our outstanding obligations - including the billions owed to schools, health care & social-service providers - really are an enormous drag on our economic recovery.
It would have to happen before the end of May to get lumped in with the original increase in the voters’ minds, I think. I don’t see that happening, though, so the current GA is kicking the can to the GA four years from now. Sadly, many of them will still be there so they’re only hurting themselves by having to take the heat a second time.
How about not threatening to jail landscapers for working with state and local governments? HB3237 would make it a FELONY for a landscaper to work below prevailing wage on some projects, but IDOL doesn’t give specifics on which projects. Enough already Illinois!
Prevailing wage (Davis-Bacon) costs taxpayers about 10% more on any given government project, according to this UC-Berkeley study.
- Time Keeps on Ticking, Ticking - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 10:55 am:
Did Judy Bar get a product placement royality for that huge McDonalds coffee with a straw in the video? That would take care of a voucher or two. She is right about her system being ancient. Totally inefficent. Good luck, hopefully republicans can point to a specific dollar amount of cuts that would make borrowing acceptable to them. It is a shame that common sense cash-flow nut and bolts has to be held hostage for politcal reasons.
Should these business to whom the state owes $850 million be willing to give the State a 3% across the boar reduction in their tax refunds? That way they could enjoy a small amount of pain along with their employees and State employees.
- Time Keeps on Ticking, Ticking - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 12:10 pm:
Granger–I am sure they would. But the state is so broke it can not cut deals like that even with the willing. Borrowing is the only way to pay in a timely manner–that’s a fact, Jack.
I’m left wondering why some of these businesses that are owed tax refunds can’t apply what they are owed to current tax liabilities, improving their cash flow and recovering what they are owed that way.
I’m sure there are good reasons, but my ignorance of the state tax code as it applies to businesses acts as an obstacle.
–But they, too, listen to Caterpillar, he said, referring to the stir the Peoria-based manufacturer raised a few weeks ago when it seemed to suggest it would move out of Illinois unless the state improved its business climate.–
What lousy journalism. Seemed to suggest? What weasel-word nonsense is that?
The CAT letter, and the CEOs later comments, spoke for themselves, clearly, and did not “seem to suggest” anything resembling Hinz’s statement.