Tri States Public Radio Staff
Thu October 8, 2009
Spending Cuts & Tax Reform
Macomb, IL – The Green Party candidate for Illinois governor says he would form a citizen's commission to weed out wasteful spending in state government.
Rich Whitney says the commission could appoint an independent auditor to go through the spending plan. But he cautions that spending cuts alone won't solve the state's budget problems.
"Yes, maybe use a scalpel, but you can't be using a meat cleaver," says Whitney. "The spending cuts we have in place now are causing horrible pain across the board to the most vulnerable members of our society."
He says the Department of Children and Family Services, veteran's homes, and other social services are being hurt. "This is not sustainable," says Whitney. "People need to realize that we're cutting our own throats if we shrink the public sector in the manner that we're doing it right now."
Whitney believes a healthy public sector is needed to help the private sector flourish. He says the foundation of a healthy public sector includes social services, infrastructure, education and healthcare.
Whitney says Illinois needs to change its tax system. He considers it regressive.
"When you combine all of the taxes -- property, sales, income, etcetera -- and look at the big picture, we're taxing the bottom 20% of income earners at more than double the rate of the top 1%," says Whitney. "And then we act surprised when the state is going broke."
Whitney says the income tax needs to be increased. He would couple that with an earned income credit for lower and middle class wage earners.
Whitney also believes Illinois should create a state bank instead of sending its money to private banks. He says North Dakota created a state bank and is one of the few states not struggling with a budget deficit.
Whitney made his comments during a stop at Western Illinois University in Macomb. His visit was sponsored by the WIU Campus Greens.