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McSweeney: Tax increase not solution to state’s budget woes

There are many ideas on the table to attempt to fix the state of Illinois’ budget problems, but perhaps one of the worst ideas being pushed is a proposal to tax retirement income in Illinois.

Retirees in Illinois pay federal taxes on their retirement income, and they also pay state and local taxes, such as motor fuel taxes, property taxes and utility taxes. It’s been reported secret working groups have been discussing a massive retirement tax.

Taxing retirement income would be disastrous and would hurt Illinois senior citizens. I’m committed to stopping any Illinois retirement tax. I’m chief sponsor of House Resolution 890, which strongly opposes efforts to tax retirement income. I currently have 56 sponsors for my resolution, and it’s supported by the AARP, which represents 1.7 million members in Illinois.

The fact is Illinois retirees already have a high tax burden. Illinois has the second-highest property taxes in the nation. Taxing retirement income is going to be a tremendous hardship for Illinois seniors.

Taxing retirement income certainly will drive many retirees to leave Illinois. That will mean fewer people buying goods and services from our local businesses and fewer people to pay state and local taxes.

Illinois does not have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem. Raising taxes is going to lead to only more spending. We need real budget reform in Illinois.

It’s time to stop the madness and adopt a permanent budget without a tax increase. The governor should call us into special session until a balanced budget is adopted. We should immediately pass a bill to eliminate member per diems and mileage reimbursements for the special session and then get down to the business of crafting a budget.

Every day that goes by without a permanent budget increases the deficit, risks more expensive credit downgrades and threatens our social safety net. We cannot continue to spend money we do not have. It is simply not sustainable.

We can avoid another tax increase and protect the needy by adopting constitutional pension modifications, reforming Medicaid and cutting administrative expenses. It’s time for bipartisan cooperation and members to work together to do the hard work of passing a balanced budget.

• David McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican, is a state representative who represents the 52nd District.

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