Transparency a Prerequisite for Solving Illinois’ Revenue Crisis
On May 10, Greg Hinz wrote about speculation on Senate President John Cullerton’s motives in advancing SB 282, a bill that would require Illinois publicly traded corporations to report on the taxes they pay to Illinois, out of committee.
This speculation is a distraction from real the problems at hand: Illinois is facing an unprecedented revenue crisis, most elected officials are focused on budget cuts rather than increasing revenue, and most of us ordinary folks will bear the brunt of those cuts in the form of eroding public infrastructure and public safety, reduced health care coverage and cuts to other human service programs.
President Cullerton committed to advancing SB 282 at Lakeview Action Coalition’s (LAC) public meeting on Sunday, May 6. LAC, a member of Make Wall Street Pay Illinois (MWSPI), brought this idea to Cullerton because LAC and MWSPI believe Illinois has a revenue crisis, not a budget crisis.
The business community complains that SB 282 will create a hostile business environment, but they might be afraid that transparency brought by SB 282 will lead to an honest conversation about the causes of and solutions to Illinois’ revenue crisis. After all, we already know that two-thirds of corporations that operate in Illinois pay no corporate income tax. This bill is a good-government measure that will help us have an informed debate about revenue sources.
The protest that SB 282 will create a hostile business climate is also disingenuous: numerous studies show that taxation is rarely a significant factor in most businesses’ decisions about where to locate. IRS statistics show that all state and local taxes combined come to only 1.2 percent of a company’s cost of doing business. Other public goods, like state of the art infrastructure, great schools, relevant worker training programs and public safety, play a much larger role in corporations’ decisions about where to locate. If corporations benefit from these goods, shouldn’t they pay their fair share to create and maintain them?
Allen Wesolowski, Board Member, Lakeview Action Coalition
Rev. Marilyn Pagán-Banks, President, IIRON
Lakeview Action Coalition is a community organization consisting of 49 member institutions, including religious congregations, social service agencies, hospitals and other stakeholders.
IIRON is a network of multi-issue grassroots power organizations in the greater Chicago area and Northwest Indiana.