The latest effort at fixing Illinois is now in print. It’s a book by former state revenue director Tom Johnson and former state lawmaker and U. of I. professor James D. Nowlan called Fixing Illinois: Politics and Policy in the Prairie State, published by the University of Illinois Press. Johnson says Illinois has an “anemic” tax structure, because revenue doesn’t rise along with economic growth.
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The book recommends expanding the tax base to include some services and food for home consumption, eliminating the income tax credit for property tax and some other measures to broaden the tax base, which would add up to $11.7 billion.
“We don’t suggest that you generate $11.7 billion more. That would put us into the highest-ranking tax burden. We say take that money and lower rates with it,” Johnson says. He says if rates are low, people and businesses are not looking for ways to avoid taxation.
The book contains 98 recommendations, some of interest only to policy nerds but many that the public can grasp. They are not necessarily easy ways for the state to get out of its financial condition. Among them: Consolidate school districts, and try ways to keep a lid on Medicaid costs while still delivering needed health care services to the poor.