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With all of the political drama in Illinois these days, it might be easy to forget the real fiscal problems the state is facing. The state’s budget deficit is projected to be $2.5 billion with an additional $4 billion in unpaid bills. But Illinois is by no means alone in this problem. Like many other states across the country, spending has been skyrocketing at an unsustainable pace and now, with its pockets empty, the state government is looking to taxpayers for a handout.
For over a year now, legislators in Illinois have been trying to hike the cigarette tax by a whopping $.90 hoping for some quick cash for pet projects and now placing the massive budget burden squarely on the shoulders of a small minority of taxpayers. Illinois is facing a deficit, but raising cigarette taxes isn’t the answer. Take action and tell your elected officials you oppose this tax hike.
Cigarette tax hikes are a historically unreliable source of revenue, not a golden goose for legislators. The funds simply won’t be there. Other states, like New Jersey, had a far less dramatic tax hike two years ago, only 17.5 cents, but they actually ended up losing $46 million in tax revenue.
That’s because as soon as cigarette taxes go through the roof smokers head across state lines for cheaper packs, or buy their cigarettes online or on the black market. This harms small local businesses a great deal. Convenience stores get approximately 34% of their in-store income from cigarette sales, and those profits will soon plummet, further draining the Illinois economy.
There’s a common saying, “You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.” That’s what the Illinois state legislature is trying to do – squeeze more taxes from a drained populace with some of the highest tax rates in the country. Instead of raising taxes, Illinois needs to cut spending and roll back the regulations and taxes that stand in the way of real, long term growth. Making Illinois a place where people want to do business and can afford to raise a family will do more for the bottom line than a regressive cigarette tax.
p>Please take a moment and tell your elected officials that Illinois can’t tax its way to a balanced budget. Your comments are an important vote for fiscal responsibility and limited government.