Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature may not agree on transportation funding, education funding, and which taxes to cut. At times members of the Capitol press corp may feel more like mediators than media. But consider the alternative, Illinois.
The Illinois House, controlled by Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan, just voted to approve $5 billion in tax increases. The Chicago Tribune reports “over a dozen” Republicans voted for the budget. The bill now goes to the Illinois Senate where its fate is uncertain. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has threatened to veto the state budget because these tax increases would be permanent, not temporary as the governor prefers.
While Illinois’ three-year budget crisis has gone unresolved, the state is headed towards junk bond status. Illinois has nearly $15 billion in unpaid bills and is under a court order to pay $293 million per month to start covering the $3 billion in unpaid Medicaid payments.
The upside of Illinois’ problems seems to be an upsurge in Wisconsin lottery tourism. We may not have toll roads, but we are collecting a toll on those Illinois residents who don’t understand math. Given the budget crisis, there seems to be a lot of them.
In 2010, Wisconsin seemed to be headed down the same path as Illinois. Democrats under Governor Jim Doyle were raising taxes, and then raising taxes again when the taxes raised were not enough to cover the budget shortfalls.
Voters chose a different direction by electing Governor Scott Walker and a Republican legislature. They passed Act 10 in 2011, and the state’s finances have been relatively stable ever since.
It’s too bad Republicans in Wisconsin haven’t come up with another proposal on the scale of Act 10 that would send legislative Democrats running to Rockford, IL, again. The Democrats could use the field trip to remind them of what their policies would bring to Wisconsin.
(From the Illinois Policy Institute)