Senator McCarter: Week In Review

Politics
April 14, 2016

The General Assembly began its second-half of the 2016 spring session. There were two budget hearings during the week that focused on a budget for the next fiscal year that begins July 1, 2016. All outward indications are the Legislature and the Governor remain miles apart on a budget for the current fiscal year that comes to a close on June 30, 2016. It’s an inexcusable failure. While having no budget for ten months is new territory, Illinois hasn’t had a balanced budget in years, according to a new report from the State Comptroller.

Elsewhere, the nationally-respected Tax Foundation says Americans spend more on taxes than food, clothing and housing combined. The tax burden assessment is worth mentioning because we heard during the week that Illinois’ transportation system is in dire need of billions of dollars in repairs. So, how do we afford that bill when we are dealing with ongoing deficits? Some people want a 30-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax and higher license plate fees.

14 Straight Budget Deficits
We are well into our tenth month without a complete and constitutional state budget. Put aside the political and philosophical concepts of government, the facts are, the policies and practices over the past dozen years are a failure. The Fiscal year 2015 budget is the last full year budget passed and approved. That budget marked the 14th straight budget deficit for state government, according to a report (page 12) from the Illinois Comptroller.

For years, state government spent beyond the taxpayers’ ability to pay. Think of it as a combination of a maxed-out credit card, an unpaid consumer loan and being overdrawn on a bank account all at the same time. Unlike individuals, it takes a lot longer for state government to face accountability. We are at that point today. Not keeping our financial house in order, because of overspending and failing to balance budgets year after year leaves state government unable to meet critical needs like rebuilding our infrastructure.

Repair Bill: $43 Billion
The Metropolitan Planning Council says Illinois needs $43 billion over the next 10 years to repair and improve the state’s transportation network. That’s roads, bridges, rail and mass transit. The Council suggests raising the state’s gasoline tax by 30-cents-per-gallon and hiking Illinois’ license plate registration fee from its current $101 to about $150.

Paying at the Pump
Legislation to increase the gas tax and license plate fees are pending in the Illinois Senate. Senate Bill 3267 and Senate Bill 3279 are assigned to the Senate Executive Committee for hearings, which are scheduled for Wednesday, April 13.According to the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), if approved, Illinois’ total tax on a gallon of gasoline would be 60-cents, the nation’s highest per-gallon gasoline tax, accounting for all applicable taxes.

IPI, the public policy and research organization, also reports that because of Illinois’ seventh-highest-in-the-nation Workers’ Compensation System, Illinois taxpayers would pay millions of dollars more for those improvements compared to the cost for the same work in other states such as Indiana. That means fewer bridges and fewer miles of road for your hard-earned tax dollars.

The tax burden is large enough. We can’t tax our way to prosperity. The 2011 state income tax hike is a prime example. Illinois collected more than $30 billion in additional revenue from 2011 through 2015. Our state debt and deficit is worse today than ever.

Americans’ Largest Bill: Taxes
The nationally-known Tax Foundation released a report during the week that concluded Americans, in general, pay more in taxes than for food, clothing and housing combined. The Foundation also calculated that America’s Tax Freedom Day for 2016 is April 24. That date is representative of, “when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year,” the Foundation states. That’s working nearly four months just to pay our taxes.

Illinois’ Tax Freedom Day: April 29
The group also lists a Tax Freedom Day for each of the states. In Illinois, it’s April 29. We rank 44th among the 50 states.

I-GOLD Rally for the Second Amendment
Wednesday, April 6 was another successful lobby day at the Capitol for Illinois gun owners. I’m privileged to be among the legislators who got the opportunity to speak to the hundreds of gun owners who came to Springfield. They are passionate promoters of our Second Amendment rights and I thank them for their persistence and patriotism. I-GOLD is one of my favorite days. I’ve addressed the group every year since 2009.

This year, I reminded them that while we celebrate Illinois’ Concealed Carry law, we need to remain vigilant because efforts by those who seek to undermine the Second Amendment continue.

Here are the bills I specifically mentioned:
· Senate Bill 1279 requires gun owners to obtain $100,000 liability insurance coverage.
· Senate Bill 1413 creates firearm registration.
· Senate Bill 1883 creates a state licensing process for gun dealers.
· Senate Bill 2858 creates an 18% tax on firearms and ammunition.

The opponents of the Second Amendment will not quit, so we need to stay on offense. That’s why this year I introduced a number of pro-Second Amendment measures to broaden the scope of the Concealed Carry law.
· Senate Bill 685 would allow Concealed Carry in Forest Preserves.
· Senate Bill 687 would allow Concealed Carry on public transportation.

While I’m pleased about Illinois’ Concealed Carry law, it’s too restrictive and it limits law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves and their families. Gun-free zones, where concealed carry is not allowed, are killing zones for criminals. Frankly, I would also support Concealed Carry for our educators and other adults in school settings.

Second Amendment supporters must remain involved in the political process. The right to keep and bear arms are part of our “unalienable rights,” as referenced in the Declaration of Independence. They are the foundation upon which the Constitution rests. They are rights that come from the Creator NOT government. In the United States, government gets its just powers from the consent of the governed. That’s you and me.

Notable Quotable
“We don’t let our people have guns. Why should we let them have ideas?” – Joseph Stalin, (1878 – 1953); Dictator of the Soviet Union from 1929 – 1953.

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