Our view: Stop asking for more

Lather, rinse, repeat.

That’s the cycle lawmakers seem stuck in when it comes to introducing legislation: Find an old proposal that went nowhere, clean it off, and present it like it’s something grand to behold.

The latest example is the measure introduced in Springfield to amend the Illinois Constitution to allow for a graduated income tax based on earnings rather than the current flat tax.

It’s a proposal made with almost every new General Assembly. It gets crushed, if it even gets called for a vote.

Co-sponsor Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, said the current tax system is unfair and doesn’t produce enough revenue. She said many taxpayers likely would see a decrease under a graduated system. Others – including area state Reps. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, and David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills – are not convinced a graduated tax would mean lower bills for most residents.

Jakobsson hopes the state’s financial mess – the nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension obligations and more than $9 billion in unpaid bills — serves as the impetus that moves the amendment forward this time.

We continue to hope the state’s growing financial disaster would be the catalyst for lawmakers to realize it’s time to craft different solutions than recycling tired ideas that go nowhere.

That’s because there’s more than one “repeat” in this cycle. Lawmakers are again looking for new revenue instead of sharpening their cutting knives because of their consistent inability to manage the state’s money with even an iota of common sense.

Case in point: Democrats approved the largest tax increase in state history in January 2011, raising tax rates 67 percent on individuals and 46 percent on businesses.

The new income was supposed to pay unpaid bills, but almost all of it goes toward pension obligations. The state’s current backlog of unpaid bills is worse than it was when the tax increase was approved.

So lawmakers are, yet again, trying to squeeze more money from overburdened taxpayers instead of prioritizing spending and making cuts.

Since lawmakers seem to like repetition, we’ll repeat ourselves too.

Make cuts.

Pay your bills.

Find solutions to the pension crisis.

Stop spending like you have bottomless state coffers to dip into.

But until you can prove that you can manage what you already have, and are willing to try something different than the status quo, don’t keep asking for more of the same.

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