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Our View: New Year’s wish list for Springfield

Published: Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

Welcome to 2014, an election year for statewide offices, including governor, state representatives and one-third of our state senators.

Obviously, with it being an election year, it will be less likely for those seeking office to say or do anything that might lose them votes. Which means it could be a long and unproductive 2014 in Springfield.

Wait, sounds like 2013. And 2012. Anyway, even against all odds, we have a wish list of things we’d like to see happen in state government this year.

• Allow the “temporary” income tax increase to expire Jan. 1, 2015. In 2011, a lame duck General Assembly passed personal and corporate income tax increases to help pay off a backlog of unpaid bills. The personal tax rate jumped to 5 percent from 3 percent. If allowed to expire, the rate will decrease to 3.75 percent in 2015.

• Squash all talk of a progressive income tax. In a progressive – or graduated – structure, higher earners pay a larger percentage of their income than lower earners. Some Democrats in Springfield are – not surprisingly – pushing for a progressive tax. However, any change from a flat tax would require amending the Illinois Constitution.

• Fix Illinois’ business climate. Business-by-business negotiated deals are bad for Illinois and are unfair to other businesses, particularly small businesses, which represent a large part of the economy. Continuing to give some big employers major tax breaks while not doing the same for others is not a viable long-term solution for Illinois’ poor business climate.

• We have more units of government than any state in the nation. We could use fewer. The Local Government Consolidation Commission, which state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, chairs, is due soon to release its report on consolidating government. We hope the commission offers substantial and meaningful ways to eliminate needless levels of government in Illinois and that the General Assembly takes steps toward enacting consolidation.

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