By Shanita Bigelow
Governor Pat Quinn will make his annual budget announcement today, highlighting his plans to fill Illinois’ woeful deficit. The minimum FY2011 starting deficit, according to the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA), is $13 billion. These growing economic concerns will likely result in more spending cuts, more borrowing and wider searchers to find more sources of revenue.
“This is the reality budget. This is what’s really happening,” David Vaught, Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), said to the Associated Press (AP). This reality is likely to include spending cuts of about $2 billion—cuts to education, public safety and human services, according to AP.
In an effort to provide Illinois residents with an in depth look into these realities, GOMB launched budget. illinois.gov. Residents have the opportunity to track government spending and provide feedback.
“We’ve received over 6,000 suggestions,” Kelly Kraft, Director of Communications for GOMB. “I sat down with the governor and he circled few…there are a lot of…sound solutions…We are excited about the feedback.”
Suggestions range from raising the cigarette tax to legalizing marijuana. But the overwhelming response has denounced further spending cuts, particularly in education, and has supported the possibility of a tax increase.
“More than 30 states have raised taxes to keep pace in this recession. Illinois has the nation’s lowest income-tax rate and a narrow sales-tax base. We’re out of step and falling further behind,” Rachel Williams of Chicago wrote.
House Bill 174 is a popular solution for many of the respondents. HB 174 would augment state revenue by increasing the rate of state income taxes from three to five percent, expanding the sales tax base, etc., according to CTBA. One third of all new revenue generated by tax increases would go into the Common School Fund, CTBA reports.
“The State of Illinois is sinking into a quagmire due to irresponsible spending without progressive taxation… There can be no excuse for failing to raise revenue while cutting services to those who have nowhere else to turn,” Rev. Lloyd A. and Ms. Doris Jean Heroff of Mount Prospect wrote on the site.