Governor Pat Quinn rammed through the largest tax hikes in Illinois history last year. On January 13, 2011, Governor Pat Quinn signed off on a 67% hike in personal income taxes and a 46% hike in corporate taxes.
The result is not what the governor thought. Businesses have fled, more have threatened to leave and Quinn responded with sweeteners. Moreover, Illinois pension plans are still the worst funded in the nation, and the state is still struggling to pay bills.
Bloomberg reports Illinois ‘Treads Water’ as Unpaid Bills Top $9 Billion
Illinois’s backlog of unpaid bills has risen to more than $9 billion because of pension costs and falling federal aid, leaving the state “essentially treading water,” Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said.
While revenue grew from higher personal and corporate taxes, “Illinois’ financial position has not improved,” Topinka said in a report today. The combination of unpaid bills to vendors and Medicaid obligations, estimated at $8.5 billion in January, means payment delays will persist, according to the report.
While tax increases boosted revenue by about $7 billion, or 3.9 percent in the first three quarters of the fiscal year that began in June, the gains were undercut by the loss of federal funding and financing of pension contributions directly, rather than through bonds as in the past two years, Baar Topinka said.
Democratic Governor Pat Quinn has proposed a voluntary 3 percent increase in pension contributions from current employees and a cut in cost-of-living increases for retirees.
“Bold action” is required to save the retirement systems, the governor told reporters in Chicago April 20. In fiscal 2010, Illinois had the lowest-funded state pension in the U.S., with assets equal to 45.4 percent of projected obligations, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.