Former Gov. Jim Edgar, a quiet supporter of Bill Brady, doesn't share the same economic philosophy as the GOP gubernatorial nominee. Brady has consistently touted the success of states like Indiana, where lawmakers have allegedly "right-sized" their government to attract business investment. In an interview on WLS' Don Wade and Roma yesterday, Edgar made a salient point about those comparisons. "Our taxes, compared to most other industrial states, are low," he said. "If we're going to have low taxes, we can't spend as much." Listen (the full clip is available here):
I'd tweak Edgar's point just slightly. It's definitely true that Illinois has low taxes compared to other industrial states, a point far too few officials are willing to concede. It's also true that we have an inefficient tax system that overburdens poor people and can't generate enough money to pay for critical (and valued) state services like public safety and education.
When elected, politicians are asked to reach an ethical decision about what activities the government should carry out. Then, they must find a way to pay for those programs. While state government is technically "living beyond its means," in the parlance of our times, it's also not taking in as much money as it should be. With the public eager to keep the social safety net in place, and with so many economically sound revenue generating options out there, does it make any sense to maintain the tax rate status quo?