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Better ways to fill Illinois budget hole

No one with half a brain thought that passage or failure of the Fair Tax Amendment would mean no tax hike.

A proposal to allow a progressive income tax — promoted as the “Fair Tax” — failed at the polls on Nov. 3. Sun-Times readers offer alternatives to fixing the state’s finances.
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A Nov. 25 editorial rhetorically asks of big business and the wealthy, “What’s your politically doable alternative” to the Fair Tax Amendment?

No one with half a brain would have thought that the passage, or failure, of the Fair Tax Amendment would result in not having a tax hike. Illinois was not in great financial shape to start with and the COVID-19 pandemic has made things worse. Expenditures are up and revenues are way down. Even if there is assistance from the federal government, a tax hike will be a necessity, along with cuts to services.

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Funds for education could be cut, but that would result in putting the onus of tax increases on school boards that then would have to raise property taxes; a form of taxation that is unfair and arbitrary.

The question remains: What tax is the most fair and equitable?

I would strongly argue for a Fair Tax equivalent. Gov. Pat Quinn suggested years ago that we increase the state income tax — but also increase the personal deductions taxpayers receive. The deductions could be tied to income levels. For example, an individual making under $30,000 a year could be granted a $10,000 deduction, in effect having to pay nothing in state income taxes. Those earning from $30,001 to $60,000 could be eligible for a $8,000 deduction, and so on.

There is still time to get a fairer tax system in Illinois, but the time to act is limited.

George Milkowski, West Ridge

Make tough decisions before doors close

Unfortunately, the Sun-Times Nov. 25 editorial on the state’s finances sounded bitter. I’m not wealthy, but I do know that a progressive tax on only the wealthy would come nowhere close in raising the revenue needed to fill the debt hole that corrupt politicians dug. Illinois should take a multi-prong approach in which everyone takes a bitter bite out of the rotten apple:

1) Raise the flat tax 1% with an earned tax credit provided to everyone with income below $35,000.

2) Reduce the number of government units by 50%.

3) Pass a constitutional amendment converting all future public pensions to a 401k type of program. All current pensions must revert to a cost-of-living adjustment that’s indexed to current inflation rate.

4) Remove all loopholes that game the pension system.

5) Remove all all special interest tax avoidance loopholes .

This is just a starter list for fiscal discipline. The remedies may be politically unpopular, but they are critical to the wellbeing of future generations of Illinois taxpayers. It would be disingenuous and unfair for Illinois politicians to run to the federal government (federal taxpayers) and ask to be bailed out of a mess caused by their own greed and fiscal irresponsibility.

Make the tough decisions now before all doors close.

Bob Hummel, Knoxville, Tennessee (and recently if Wheaton, Illinois)

Nonsense editorial

So in the make-believe world of the Sun-Times:

1). Two constitutional amendments were necessary or at least desirable: one on the revenue side of the state’s finances, the other on the spending side.

2). But the Sun-Times insists, as argued in a Nov. 25 editorial, that we stipulate that discussing an amendment on the spending side is out of bounds because the political party that wants a revenue-side amendment — the Democrats — refuses to consider a spending-side amendment. This is presented as some sort of “reality” we are all supposed to accept, like the law of gravity.

3). And instead of going back to the Democrats to demand that they reconsider their position on a spending-side amendment, you say the burden now to anyone opposed to the revenue-side amendment is to find a solution that everyone might agree on.

4). And to achieve your illogical outcomes, you falsely label the 55% of Illinois voters that saw right through the liberal nonsense as pawns of big business or millionaires.

The response to your editorial is simple:

1). We are in stalemate unless we address the elephant in the room, runaway spending alongside any discussion of enhanced revenue.

2). Until the stalemate is broken, the state and every single public entity in Illinois should be forced into bankruptcy or its equivalent under state law.

It’s that simple.

And until your newspaper and every other dumb liberal comes to appreciate this reality, then the death of Chicago as a great city is on your hands.

Carmen D. Caruso, the Loop