Closing Loopholes, Saving Services

The end is in sight. Usually, these words signal that we’re about to complete an important project—finishing the school year, moving to a new home, finalizing a grant request. We take a deep breath, gather our physical and emotional resources, and make one last push. It’s a good feeling.

But, not necessarily, when we’re facing the end of the legislative session.

The General Assembly will adjourn on May 31, 2013, but the major legislative issues of this session—pensions, guns, and the FY 2014 budget—are still unresolved.

Of all these issues, the 2014 State Budget is the most urgent. Budget making in Illinois is, at best, a complicated process involving the Governor and the two chambers of the General Assembly. Each entity uses a different process, and each works with different revenue and expense projections. There are, however, two constants.

First, the financial needs of the state exceed the revenue projections for the budget. In addition, a substantial backlog of unpaid bills creates additional stress on the available resources. Since Illinois legislators are reluctant to take any action to raise revenue, the time-honored solution is cuts, cuts to vital state-funded services: education, human services, health care, and public safety.

As the end of this legislative session approaches, it’s time for us to say to our legislators and governor, “Let’s do something different this year.”

Fiscal experts in the General Assembly and Voices for Illinois Children, among other advocacy organizations, have suggested several choices that could alleviate some of our budgetary woes, one of which is to eliminate unnecessary corporate tax breaks.

Taxes on corporations make up only 5.5% of General Revenue in Illinois while individual taxpayers contribute about 53%. Our tax dollars pay for vital state services, i.e., education, human services, health care, and public safety. Our tax dollars also pay for tax breaks to major corporations if those businesses invest in “domestic production activities” even when activities occur in another state or country. For example, some highly-profitable corporations have their headquarters in Illinois, but their production or service units are located in other states. These corporations are not paying Illinois taxes on their profits nor are they creating jobs for Illinois people.

We believe there’s a compelling case to end a few large corporate tax loopholes.

First, there’s the opinion of Illinois voters. A state-wide survey of Illinois voters in November 2012 showed that 72% of Illinois voters say “politicians have been giving big handouts to big corporations.” In addition, 41% of voters believe that taxes on big corporations are too low while only 22% believe they are too high.

And, ending some tax breaks would produce revenue that could offset some of the proposed budget cuts. Advocates along with a number of legislators, believe that having more money for education, child care, and other vital services is a very good reason to pursue this course of action.

You can add your voice to this debate by sending a message to your legislators. Let’s urge our legislators to make this year’s “end” different.

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