BRADY ENDS PARTICIPATION IN SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
My office will no longer issue tuition waivers to college students under the General Assembly Scholarship Program.
These scholarships have enhanced the ability of many outstanding students in my district to obtain a college education, but allegations of program abuse, as well as the worsening fiscal challenges faced by the state and its universities, have brought me to reconsider my participation.
I have also sponsored legislation to abolish the program. The House of Representatives has passed similar legislation, but the Democrat-controlled Senate has blocked the measure.
Democrat leaders of the General Assembly have also failed to address Governor Pat Quinn’s veto of reforms to prevent awarding the scholarships to family members. Governor Quinn rewrote the bill to abolish the program.
I was not involved in the selection of the scholarship recipients in my district, giving that responsibility to a committee of educators and community leaders who judged the applications blindly and selected the recipients.
A YEAR AFTER TAX INCREASE, FISCAL OUTLOOK STILL BLEAK
It’s been a year since a lame-duck Legislature raised income taxes and Illinois’ fiscal outlook remains bleak, despite the fact that working families are now paying about $1,000 more in taxes that could be better spent on groceries, gas and other necessities.
No Republican lawmakers voted for the “temporary” tax increase passed in the early morning hours January 12, 2011.
Senate Bill 2505 hiked the state’s personal income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent – an increase of 67 percent. It also increased the state’s corporate income tax rate from 4.8 percent to 7 percent – an increase of 46 percent. Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill into law the next day.
For years now, we have been telling our Democrat colleagues that a tax-and-spend approach to government would have a disastrous effect on Illinois’ jobs climate, especially in a time of economic recession. No one listened and now the state is at a critical juncture. Despite a record income tax increase – or perhaps, because of that record income tax increase – our fiscal outlook is bleak at best.
TAXES HAVE AFFECTED JOBS, CREDIT RATING
Democrat leaders insisted that increasing taxes would not affect jobs but in the ensuing year, a number of high-profile employers threatened to leave Illinois. Tax incentives have been passed to retain the employers – and jobs – but the state unemployment rate has still reached double-digits and was 16 percent above the national average in November.
Illinois’ credit rating has also been downgraded once again by one major credit rating, while the others have issued warnings that future credit downgrades could occur. These poor credit ratings will cost taxpayers millions of dollars in higher interest rates on state debt.
TAX INCREASE WAS SUPPOSED TO PAY DOWN BILLS
Democrat leaders also pushed the tax hike as a way to pay a staggering backlog of bills and resolve the state’s financial problems. Yet, at this time, the Governor’s Administration estimates a $7 billion bill backlog, while the Comptroller believes the backlog could be as high as $8 billion.
And although they claimed the tax increase would be largely repealed in four years, Democrat leaders have continued to spend as though the increase will be permanent. In fact, last week, Governor Quinn released budget projections showing that instead of generating a surplus, the Fiscal Year 2012 budget still spends more than state takes in. According to the Governor, Illinois will still see a $500 million shortfall at the end of this fiscal year – not including $2 billion in deferred obligations.
SENATE GOP HAS A BETTER PLAN
Senate Republicans have a viable alternative – a “Reality Check” budget plan that they offered last March. The proposal contains a menu of more than $6.5 billion in spending cuts and revenue generators that would enable the state to bring the budget into line with available revenues.
We need true reforms, controlled spending and good fiscal management. The Senate Republican “Reality Check” plan will help us accomplish those goals and set our state back on a more responsible path.
The current system clearly is not working – it hasn’t for years and is the basis for the dire financial conditions we now face. We need to chart another course before it is too late.