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Pritzker to opponents: What’s your plan?

Wednesday, Mar 13, 2019

* Tribune

Pritzker, repeating talking points he used last week when launching his tax proposal, said the plan would help the state address its $3.2 billion budget deficit, $8.4 billion backlog of unpaid bills and $134 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. He presented two alternatives: across-the-board spending cuts or an increase in the current flat tax rate. The governor so far has ruled out extending the sales tax to consumer services or taxing retirement income, moves that would put Illinois more in line with other states but are politically unpopular.

Pritkzer’s plan has been met with unified opposition from Republican lawmakers and large business organizations including the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. They argue that raising taxes on the wealthy will push residents and businesses out of the state.

Rather than just criticize his plan, Pritzker said, opponents should offer “a specific counter-proposal.” So far, none has been forthcoming.

* It’s a different tax, but still on-topic

Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes by 32 cents. That’s expected to raise $55 million in revenue, the administration said.

Illinois Association of Convenience Stores Executive Vice President Bill Fleischli represents thousands of convenience stores around the state. He said Pritzker proposal will make Illinois’ taxes on cigarettes about $2.30 a pack in Illinois. He said that would push Illinois’ taxes on cigarettes to the highest in the region, behind Wisconsin. […]

Instead of increasing taxes, Fleischli said the state should find other ways to shore up the budget.

“Look at anything, look at a reduction in spending,” Fleischli said. “Look at other areas, not just the sins. We ought to go someplace else.”

It’s not really fair to expect Fleischli to propose an alternative revenue or spending plan. That’s not what he does. But it is a useful rhetorical device to make the opposition sputter.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

54 Comments
  1. - Give Me A Break - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:19 am:

    Well Bill since your product cost millions of dollars in healthcare costs to the citizens of Illinois, you should be the ones paying the price.


  2. - DarkDante - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:20 am:

    Royko on Hizzoner:

    “It’s easy to criticize, but where are your programs?”

    Seems pertinent.


  3. - El Conquistador - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:26 am:

    The ILGOPs plan remains the same. Burn everything down, screw all your creditors, and file bankruptcy… they’re utterly devoid of viable solutions.

    JB is doing a good job of presenting fair reasonable measures to get the State back on the right track. Let him lead and we’ll will succeed.


  4. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:26 am:

    Perfect and proper position by Pritzker. Let’s see the counters. C’mon, GOP, IPI, Trib editorial board, etc., show your proposals. Show the GA votes. We strongly rejected the GOP, Raunerism and the right wing in the last election. Come on out now with the policies to cut, cut, cut.

    Too bad the GOP doesn’t want to work on a graduated income tax and property tax relief. It’s better than the flat tax, better that the vast majority of us would get cuts and the rich would be required to pay modestly more.


  5. - Camel - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:28 am:

    ==highest in the region, behind Wisconsin==

    So… not the highest in the region? My heart doesn’t break for the Illinois cigarette smoker, and I say that as one (in Cook county no less). It’s an awful habit, anything we can do to make it more difficult is worth looking into.


  6. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:36 am:

    –“Look at other areas, not just the sins.”–

    A tax on virtues, perhaps? Ten percent every time you chuck your change in the charity jar? Or give a buck to the dude shaking the cup in the parking lot?

    Maybe just let the smokes tax slide as not to tempt anyone on a Big Gulp tax. That’s where you’re making your money.

    –”Cold-dispensed beverages”, as the category is called, amount to only about 2% of a store’s sales, but on average, they return a 48% gross profit, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores.

    Cigarettes, by contrast, constitute about 36% of retail sales but have only a 15% profit margin.==

    https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18271120


  7. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:37 am:

    A progressive tax, with options to make it harder to increase rates and brackets.


  8. - Nick Name - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:37 am:

    ===“Look at anything, look at a reduction in spending,” Fleischli said.===

    Critics want to cut, but never want to suggest where. And they never say how they plan to get 60 and 30.


  9. - Tired Teacher - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:40 am:

    Very fair point by J.B.; if you have another idea that benefits 97% of the state, let’s hear it. Otherwise you are just the same old noise that has hurt the state.


  10. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:41 am:

    The politics to it, yes, this is wise by the governor.

    Why?

    If their plan is “No” and be “No”… very well.

    “What do you got?”

    They have no plan. That’s what’s being smoked out. It’s solid politics to it, wether you agree with the governor’s plan(s) or not.


  11. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:42 am:

    This is the same question I’ve been asking here. This problem is too large to solve with cuts alone, proven by Rauner administration officials who - literally - couldn’t identify any cuts that should be made during committee hearings. And it was proven by Governor “I’ll take the arrows”, who never bothered to use his line-item veto powers to cut anything.

    The trib edit board won’t admit it, so the fact that no one else has a plausible solution will have to be put out there through reporting on comments from JB and his administration


  12. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:45 am:

    Kicking $800 million in pension payments down the road for the next 8 years and ruling out any reforms so you can spend more on your progressive agenda will not get the state back on track.

    Doubling the 2016 tax rates on wealthy individuals and successful small businesses will accelerate the exodus and require further tax hikes on the middle class.


  13. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:47 am:

    The Governor cannot balance the budget with a line item veto.

    It requires compromise with the legislature and relief from consent decrees by the judiciary.


  14. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:51 am:

    ===Cigarettes, by contrast, constitute about 36% of retail sales but have only a 15% profit margin===

    Except smokers will walk through a blizzard to feed their addiction. Uphill. Both ways. Great customers, until they die.


  15. - Pick a Name - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:54 am:

    You are in the big boy chair Jay Robert, you get to make the tough choices and decisions.


  16. - Libertarian - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:56 am:

    “This is the same question I’ve been asking here. This problem is too large to solve with cuts alone”

    As my name implies, I am not partial to taxes. But the problem is too big for spending cuts alone. I think JB’s proposal is reasonable and has to be part of the solution (or some variation of it). The ILGOP needs to provide constructive ideas moving forward. Better to have a seat at the table to influence the inevitable than to stand on the sidelines with your arms crossed.


  17. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:58 am:

    I said this with Rauner: I don’t need my own plan to criticize yours.

    I think JB’s plan is a good one, but I hate this argument.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 10:59 am:

    ===You are in the big boy chair…, you get to make the tough choices and decisions.===

    Narrator: He is. Calling out the GOP for having no plan… while having his own plan… is making tough choices and decisions.


  19. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:01 am:

    I know sequestration isn’t a popular topic here, but this is exactly why the federal government went to it: congress didn’t have the courage to make specific cuts, so they kicked it to an anonymous default. But like so many undesirable things, it was better than the alternative. JB’s initial release said the alternative to progressive tax was 15% cuts. Ok, how about the same tax and a fraction of those cuts? (Spare education and maybe a handful of other programs, but know going in there will be pain and trust the agencies to know how to minimize it).


  20. - City Zen - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:07 am:

    ==Very fair point by J.B.; if you have another idea that benefits 97% of the state, let’s hear it.==

    Can you double my salary first?


  21. - brickle - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:28 am:

    Sequestration was demanded by a right-wing austerian chamber in order to not blow up the entire economy over the debt ceiling

    Austerity is a proven failure in country after country as reviewed by numerous economists and other organizations. Federal sequestration certainly shouldn’t be viewed as a model of anything good.


  22. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:36 am:

    wordslinger@10:36:

    Beverages may have a higher profit margin, but 48% profit on 2% of sales is only $10 profit on $1000 in sales. For cigarettes, 15% of 36% is a $54 profit. Quantity over quality wins this one.

    To the GOP negotiations for the progressive tax amendment, another negotiating point would be a balanced budget clause with real teeth. For example: if the actual expenditures exceeds actual revenue in a given year, the next year’s expenditures (budget and actual) cannot exceed the prior year’s actual revenue without a 4/5 vote. 4/5 gives the GOP some power and allows for emergencies, but it can be avoided if the Dems always spend less than revenues, which ultimately is what we all want.


  23. - Chicagonk - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:39 am:

    Has the Pritzker administration looked into applying Illinois income tax rates to out-of-state residents for work done in Illinois? I’m not saying to look at this rather than the progressive tax change, but in addition to it.


  24. - Last Bull Moose - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:52 am:

    Many areas of the State budget get a federal match. It often requires $2 of cuts to save $1 in state savings.

    To add to the complexity, when the federal money is spent on salaries the state gets income tax revenues and probably sales tax as well. The dollar in savings turns out to be even less.


  25. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:03 pm:

    ==The Governor cannot balance the budget with a line item veto.==
    No, but it’s a place to start and Pritzker should look for places to use it too. He probably won’t because he’s too liberal, but he should.

    ==It requires compromise with the legislature and relief from consent decrees by the judiciary.==
    Congrats, this is the first time you’ve ever use the words “compromise with the legislature” here without also including “don’t”, “can’t”, “shouldn’t”, “doesn’t need to” or “why should he”


  26. - cdog - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:08 pm:

    I’d like to see the state go all in on sin taxes but direct the money at repairing the damage caused by the sins.

    Beyond that and with regard to increasing revenue vs decreasing expenses, who made the rule that this is an either/or dichotomy?

    I’ve seen nothing, zip, nada, zero, from Pritzker about cuts. The “golden mean” has proven wise for nearly 2500 years. Maybe a few more discussions about incorporating a few bipartisan cuts could be the virtuous angle.


  27. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:16 pm:

    “Better to have a seat at the table to influence the inevitable than to stand on the sidelines with your arms crossed.”

    It’s dangerous, unfortunately, for the GOP to negotiate with Pritzker on a fair tax. It would greatly upset the mega-rich donor types. Many Republican voters and others I’m sure would like to pay lower taxes, to give less of their money to Madigan. Republicans are trapped by these donor types, media and policy organizations. That’s bad for the state and their future election prospects.


  28. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:17 pm:

    ===It would greatly upset the mega-rich donor types===

    Who would do what? Give the money to Dems?


  29. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:17 pm:

    Great Lester, compromise with the executive branch is what was lacking the past four years.

    There were numerous examples of Rauner compromising with the legislature on the Cullerton pension plan etc, you don’t have to invent fake quotes where I said don’t compromise.

    Zero examples of Speaker Madigan compromising with the Governor, except on the successful private school tax credit which JB wants to undo 4 years before the 5 year sunset to keep the teachers unions happy.


  30. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:21 pm:

    ===I’ve seen nothing, zip, nada, zero, from Pritzker about cuts===

    He campaigned against cuts. I asked him during the campaign to identify a single spending cut and he talked about investing in education or something.

    So, you’re not gonna see cuts.


  31. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:28 pm:

    “Who would do what? Give the money to Dems?”

    So it wouldn’t upset the mega-rich donor types? Then what rational reason is there for the GOP to take such a hard “no” stance on supporting a graduated income tax plan? One would think that the prospect of tax cuts for the vast majority of state residents would attract the GOP and those who scream practically daily for tax cuts. What could be stopping them?


  32. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:29 pm:

    ===highest in the region, behind Wisconsin==

    So… not the highest in the region? My heart doesn’t break for the Illinois cigarette smoker, and I say that as one (in Cook county no less). It’s an awful habit, anything we can do to make it more difficult is worth looking into.=

    Cripes, do these guys speak English? So he can say we are highest in the region he had to invent a way not to say second? Dude, just say second to Wisconsin for crying out loud.

    =Doubling the 2016 tax rates on wealthy individuals and successful small businesses will accelerate the exodus and require further tax hikes on the middle class=

    LOL, and your proof? Kansas?


  33. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:30 pm:

    ===Great Lester, compromise with the executive branch is what was lacking the past four years.

    There were numerous examples of Rauner compromising with the legislature on the Cullerton pension plan etc, you don’t have to invent fake quotes where I said don’t compromise.===

    No. Not true.

    Rauner would *allow* a tax increase *if* unions lost collective bargaining and prevailing wage

    The best example of this is property tax relief

    When the bill(s) ran without the union busting asks, Raunerites were Red

    Make no mistake, we’re not re-litigating Rauner on this;

    Rauner compromises required Dems to vote for tax increases AND purposely hurt labor. Both.

    There was never 60/71 or 30/36 for that.

    Saying Rauner compromised is grossly disingenuous to the institutional knowledge of what did occur those four years

    Rauner subsequently lost by the largest margin by a sitting (incumbent) Republican Governor in 100 years. Again. Not an accident.


  34. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:32 pm:

    ===It would greatly upset the mega-rich donor types===

    Keep in mind, Rauner largely underwrote the state GOP campaign efforts the last four years. I doubt if he’ll be writing any more checks for that.

    GOP lawmakers currently are in search of “mega-rich donor types.”


  35. - BenFolds5 - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:39 pm:

    Rich has made the point why this is so polarizing. We are going to raise with NO cuts. Seems like the GOP plan of No is what many of us want. Politically, they should say yes, whatever you say, show any increase in revenue to either match with a cut or target certain areas of percentages of cuts. Spare only the most at harm. DCFS and elderly. Everyone else. Cut.


  36. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:44 pm:

    ===Seems like the GOP plan of No is what many of us want.===

    Not according to the 2018 gubernatorial election results, but…


  37. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:44 pm:

    ==It requires compromise with the legislature–

    Looks like the original LP is working a salt mine in Siberia and has been replaced by a samozvanets.


  38. - BenFolds5 - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:58 pm:

    OW Making the comment or the election a 1 topic event is beneath you. That’s like asking the voters, “Are you for raising taxes?” JB won, but, that was hardly a referendum on him as it was on Chief Carthart. We are stuck with higher taxes and no cuts. My guess is JB won’t be too difficult to beat in 4 years if he sticks to his guns too.


  39. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:04 pm:

    ===JB won, but, that was hardly a referendum on him as it was on… ===

    Same could be said when Rauner beat Quinn.

    But… “elections have consequences”.

    Pritzker ran on changing and raising taxes. Rauner ran against it.

    Pritzker won.


  40. - BenFolds5 - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:05 pm:

    OW.. Yes, true.


  41. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:05 pm:

    Also “only” 3% will see an increase in their taxes, under this proposal.

    Many… 97%… will not.


  42. - Sue - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    How about the flat tax at 6 and double the exemptions to help out the truly needy


  43. - theCardinal - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:13 pm:

    You’re the Gov now & you campaigned on the tax issue…Pass the tax increases get it over with. Stop asking for input from business community your not going to get their buy in. Leading is hard.


  44. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:15 pm:

    ===Then what rational reason===
    ==rational reason==
    =rational=

    Therein lies the answer. Most of us would not consider going all-in on funding from the 3% in exchange for votes from the 97% to be rational, but here we are nonetheless.


  45. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:19 pm:

    “We are stuck with higher taxes and no cuts.”

    Not if we get a fair tax, because we, meaning the vast majority of the state, will get tax cuts.

    We just had brutal cuts, unleashed by the previous governor. We had some elderly people lose their grooming assistants, among so many other cuts. That’s outrageous and unacceptable. Haven’t we had enough?


  46. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:30 pm:

    –You are in the big boy chair Jay Robert, you get to make the tough choices and decisions.–

    Yes. In this case, subject to 3/5 vote of the GA and, if that is successful, a public vote in November 2020.

    I think his objective here is to demonstrate that Republicans who have been complaining that Pritzker will not compromise have not brought forth any proposals that could represent a compromise.


  47. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:48 pm:

    ==compromise with the executive branch is what was lacking the past four year==

    Still peddling that nonsense are you?

    It’s amazing that four years on you still cannot grasp the concept of how governing works. Neither could Rauner. You simply prefer to whine about everything.


  48. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:49 pm:

    ==You are in the big boy chair Jay Robert, you get to make the tough choices and decisions.–==

    That’s pretty funny coming from a mindset of how nothing was the prior Governor’s fault and he wasn’t in charge. Apparently the rules of the game change depending on who occupies that chair.


  49. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 2:38 pm:

    LP, what OW said. Thanks Willy (exclamation point deleted)

    ==Stop asking for input from business community your not going to get their buy in.==

    Cardinal, I don’t think anyone would expect them to buy in but they should at least be at the table. Heck, at least show up to explain why you think it’s a bad idea. Who knows they might be able to get some carve outs or even bend the curve a little, like Rich suggested in his print column.

    As you said, leading is hard - which the GOP has proven by letting Baise and Co. lead them right into a politically unpopular corner. Is that really where they want to be in 2020? “We oppose tax cuts for almost everyone, because…reasons”? They’ll be in a bad enough position with trump at the top of the ticket without having to explain their opposition to an overwhelmingly popular idea at the same time.


  50. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 3:08 pm:

    (Tips cap to - Lester Holt’s Mustache -)


  51. - Jibba - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 4:15 pm:

    I support necessary spending along with collection of enough taxes to pay for it, including the progressive tax.

    However, JB is missing an opportunity to gain support by analyzing our entire delivery of services over the next 4 years, from top to bottom. Organize a high profile committee to look over each agency, starting with the biggest. They may or may not find a lot of savings, but it is a necessary act.


  52. - Fixer - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 6:11 pm:

    Four years of hearing how we need to cut from agencies waste, fraud and abuse. Still waiting on the specifics from these folks looking into this. Where do you cut at agencies that are still understaffed, dealing with systems that are still not functioning fully… if you know where the cuts can be made, name them.


  53. - Tired Teacher - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 6:24 pm:

    To City Zen - if u are in the top 3% you can double my salary and that of every average citizen. If you aren’t, then JB’s plan already gives you a win.


  54. - Baberham Lincoln - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 8:27 am:

    Aren’t there 7,000 units of government for app. 12 million residents?

    There’s a place to start.

    Are there any updates on the government unit consolidation?


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