Minority of One blog

Should Illinois' income tax hike be extended?

If you're a Republican or a Democrat, you can find encouraging news in a new poll on how Illinois voters feel about various issues. But if you're looking from a less partisan perspective, you'll probably be depressed. It shows just how challenging it will be to solve the state government's budget problems.

On the one hand, according to the poll sponsored by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, 60 percent of voters oppose an extension of the 2011 personal income tax increase signed by Gov. Pat Quinn. It boosted the flat rate to 5 percent but the rate is scheduled to drop to 3.75 percent next year. Only 26 percent want to keep the rate where it is.

But voters apparently don't want to make the spending cuts needed to cover the lost revenue, either. More than half think the deficit can be eliminated by cutting waste and inefficiency. (Good news for Republicans.) A majority oppose any cuts in spending on education, public safety, natural resources, the poor, the disabled, and pensions. (Good news for Democrats.)

Illinoisans don't want to pay what all these programs cost, but they want to get all the benefits they provide. That's kind of how the state got into its fiscal mess. And it's why the next governor, whoever he may be, will have a very hard job trying to clean it up.

CHICAGO

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