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Column

McSweeney: Raising taxes again will kill Illinois jobs

Winston Churchill once said, “We contend that for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

Illinois raised taxes, and the end result has been a mass exodus of people from the Land of Lincoln to other states. Last year, according to Allied Van Lines, Illinois led the nation in outbound moves.

The General Assembly is supposed to pass a budget by May 31, and there already are people promoting a massive tax increase. In fact, there’s a lot of speculation about a “megadeal” that will include a massive tax increase and reports that secret “working groups” will be discussing ways to increase taxes. My strong view is that we need to cut spending, not raise taxes.

Governments cannot tax themselves into prosperity. Here in Illinois, politicians have tried unsuccessfully to prove Churchill wrong. Illinois has the second-highest property taxes in the nation, and the Land of Lincoln is ranked the worst state to be a taxpayer, according to a recent survey from WalletHub.

It is no secret Illinois has a massive Fiscal 2016 budget shortfall. To make matters worse, a high percentage of every state dollar is going toward the state’s $111 billion unfunded pension liability. Illinois is indeed teetering on the brink of financial ruin.

The reality is that giving Springfield more money resulted in the state spending more money. Giving Springfield more money to spend is not a permanent fix to the state’s budget woes.

The results of all of Illinois’ tax and spend policies?

Illinois has the worst-funded pension system in the country and the worst credit rating of all 50 states. Illinois ranks as the third-worst state for doing business, according to Chief Executive magazine and has had the slowest recovery from the Great Recession of all 50 states.

The list of budget and economic problems in Illinois goes on and on. The reality is the only permanent solution to the state’s budget woes is to get the economy moving in Illinois by adopting pro-growth policies. More jobs and more economic opportunities will generate more revenue and help shore up the budget. Economic growth combined with less spending is the best long-term solution.

In the short-term, we must reduce spending while protecting the truly needy. I support a zero-based budgeting approach, which would require state agencies to fully justify all of their funding each year. We also need to eliminate waste and fraud, reduce the state’s general services budget and find ways to reduce the state employees’ group insurance costs.

Raising taxes has not solved Illinois’ budget problems in the past and will not solve them in the future. We cannot continue to stand in a bucket and try to lift ourselves. The path to prosperity is to create a better business climate in the long-term in Illinois and look at ways to reduce the cost of government in the short-term. The last thing we need in Illinois is a tax increase.

Be assured that I will represent my constituents and strongly oppose any tax increase.

• David McSweeny, R-Barrington Hills, represents the state’s 52nd House district.

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