Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Does Blagojevich want the gross receipts tax passed?

Schools in Illinois get most of their money from local property taxes, which is a great way to fund schools if you want to make sure that rich areas get great schools and poor areas get terrible ones.

The system is broken, and on the table now are two proposals for reforming it. The first is House Bill 750, which would shift some of the school funding burden from property taxes to income taxes. This bill has passed in the Illinois House, and its support in the statehouse seems to be pretty broad.

The other proposal is the governor's incredibly sweeping gross receipts tax, which would fall on business income, and hit small business most heavily. This proposal has diminishing support in the Senate, is not supported by the lieutenant governor and is opposed by farmers.

So, seriously, what is Blagojevich thinking? When a commenter on Yellow Dog Democrat's Illinoize post raised the possibility that Blagojevich and Madigan could be working fiendishly together, YDD outlined a set of potential motivations for Blagojevich's weirdly aggressive, unpassable tax proposal:
--He really wants his health care plan (and needs a bigger tax increase to pay for it). ...

-- His political advisers have misread the tea leaves and the polling on an income tax/service tax plan that increases funding for schools and provides property tax relief. And they foolishly believed that voters would buy into their "big corporation" rhetoric and were too stupid to see the GRT would be passed on to them.

-- He's too arrogant to support a plan that wasn't his idea to begin with, and requires complex negotiations and compromises.

-- What the Governor actually hopes to accomplish at the end of the day is nothing, but he wants to be able to say he tried to do something, and blame others for the fact that nothing happened, gaining a political advantage.
(Emphasis added.) These four possibilities aren't mutually exclusive, but that last one feels the most right, doesn't it? My sense is that Blagojevich must know he doesn't have anything like the clout he needs to pass his GRT bill. And in fact it would be politically risky to pass, since the governor would be left on the hook for the seemingly inevitable economic ill-effects.

So not getting anything done while blaming others for it is probably just about the best political outcome for the governor right now. Too bad it's one of the worst outcomes for the children attending schools in Illinois.

UPDATE [4/10 12:38pm] ... Yellow Dog Democrat's follow-up Illinoize post.

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