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Our View: Don’t break promise to taxpayers

Published: Friday, March 1, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

After they rammed it down our throats in January 2011, Gov. Pat Quinn and others promised most of the state’s 67 percent income tax increase would only last for a little while.

The increase in Illinois’ flat personal income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent was supposed to roll back, falling to 3.75 percent in 2015 and 3.25 percent in 2025. The corporate income tax rate, which increased from 4.8 percent to 7 percent, was to fall to 5.25 percent in 2015.

This increase, which takes about $1,000 more a year out of the pockets of working families, was supposed to be a stopgap, something to buy time while our leaders came up with more permanent solutions to our state’s pension crisis.

More than two years later, all under Quinn’s watch, almost nothing has been accomplished. The problem has only grown worse.

Now comes a proposal from a Democrat state representative to make the full amount of the tax increase permanent. It’s appalling, if not shocking.

State Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie is the assistant majority leader in the state House. Last week, he presented a plan to keep the full income tax increase in effect to help pay the state’s mounting pension debt at least through 2019. But really, once in place that long, there’s no way it will ever be rolled back.

Of course, the state’s pension debt already is consuming all of the extra $7 billion a year the increase brings in income tax receipts. Meanwhile, our state can not pay its bills in a timely manner, falling more than $6 billion behind on payments to vendors, with time to receive payment stretching six months to a year.

This income-tax increase ought to be rescinded immediately. Those Illinoisans fortunate enough to have jobs need their money; state government needs to set its financial house in order.

It’s no mystery what needs to be done: A pension deal must be worked out and spending must be cut.

Our state’s leaders must keep their word and not seek to make this “temporary” increase a permanent albatross around the necks of workers and companies who are still doing business in Illinois.

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