[Bumped up for visibility.]
* From the Chicago Tribune’s endorsement of Republican Jim Edgar over Democrat Neil Hartigan in 1990 and Edgar’s support for making the “temporary” income tax hike permanent and Hartigan’s opposition…
It`s too bad that the public debate in this race has focused almost exclusively on taxes, and that Hartigan has played to anti-tax forces that believe they can elect Walt Disney and spend four years in Fantasia.
When Hartigan announced his proposals to find $573 million next year by slashing budgets, levying a new business tax and collecting heretofore lost revenues, they fell in the realm of safe, unrealistic, pre-election rhetoric. If he wanted to try to cut the budget, more power to him. When he came up short of expectations, the only damage would be to the psyche of Illinois voters who would have been fooled about the state`s fiscal condition in three consecutive campaigns.
But Hartigan saw that the anti-tax message moved polls in his direction. He decided to embrace the anti-tax fever even if it meant boxing himself in as governor. He announced that he would veto any attempt to continue the current 20 percent surcharge on state income taxes, even the portion that gives $370 million to the state`s struggling schools and universities. He would find the money for education in dramatic budget cuts and revenue increases that, so far, are nothing more than dreams on paper.
That was unrealistic and irresponsible. He is counting on a natural growth in existing taxes that, in view of current economic conditions, is too optimistic by at least $100 million. His proposal to slap a new sales tax on industries that expand, modernize or relocate in Illinois would be risky in good economic times; today, it`s outlandish.
And by taking so much state money away from local taxing bodies, he`s inviting increases in property taxes-a far more unpopular, inequitable way to raise money than the income tax he wants to cut.
If he fails, if his plans fall far short of his promises, either the schools won`t get the money or the state will go into debt. Or Hartigan will have to ask for higher taxes. Voters will scream and lawmakers who remember his campaign will just say no.
Those were the days, eh?
Substitute “Rauner” for “Hartigan” and they could’ve written the exact same editorial today… If they were still unwilling to live in a fiscal and economic “Fantasia,” that is.