3/29/2007 12:16:00 PM Guest column Democrats coming out against GRT
By Rep. ROGER EDDY For the Daily News
Claiming that he "has the Lord on his side" in his attempt to impose the largest tax increase in Illinois history, Gov. Rod Blagojevich continues to trumpet the virtues of the implementation of a gross-receipts tax in Illinois. Most of you have heard by this time about the plan. The measure would bring more than six billion new dollars into the Illinois general revenue fund to pay for massive increases in education and health care spending in Illinois.
I am not sure how the governor thought he could slip this one by the people of this state. Perhaps it was the fact that he recently won re-election (with less than 50 percent of the vote), or perhaps he figured everyone was so angry at greedy corporations because of the electric utility rate increases that it would be easy to make the corporate community the "enemy." Whatever the reasoning, he should have known that anything that started with the word "gross" and ended with "tax" was in for some trouble.
This past week, various members of the governor's own party came out against the proposal in a big way. Comptroller Dan Hynes, Treasurer Alexis Giannoulias and, even his lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn, joined the ranks of those jumping off what appears to be a sinking ship. In fact, Quinn not only invoked the name of the Lord in his press conference, but also trumped that by quoting Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Unlike many of those who are critical of the governor on his proposal, Quinn has suggested that a bipartisan commission be formed to examine corporate tax loopholes and figure out ways to close those loopholes. This 10-member board would hold public meetings and ultimately provide a report that would specifically define which loopholes would be closed. Not a bad idea; sounds a lot like an open democratic process that would allow for disclosure and public debate. Don't expect the governor to support Quinn's plan.
The same day that the lieutentant governor held his press conference, every major agriculture group in the state also held a press conference to oppose the tax. Most groups pointed out two important truths related to the GRT and the farmers. First of all, farmers - who are "price takers" in the market and cannot pass the tax along - will feel this pinch in their pocketbooks immediately. Secondly, as the GRT is added at various stages after the farmer sells the grain (or other raw product), all of the various impositions of the GRT every time a transaction occurs related to the end product (the "pyramid") up until the time of retail sale will be passed along to the consumer.
The only new thing to report on the electric rate issue is that ComEd has been added to the electric rate freeze bill, which originally only included Ameren, that is on third reading in the Senate. There is still no sign of when Senate President Emil Jones and House Speaker Michael Madigan are finally going to get together on a final bill so that legislators can vote to end these ridiculous rate increases. This issue should have been solved weeks ago, and with any real leadership it would have been. I will continue to support the type of reasonable compromise that I always believed should have been passed.
Various measures to further restrict Second Amendment rights are set to be called in the House and Senate. Legislation like SB 16 and HB 731 (among others) will likely be voted on in the coming weeks. I can assure you that I will oppose any and all attempts to undermine Second Amendment rights. I will strongly support efforts like HB 1757, sponsored by downstate Democrat John Bradley, that would allow gun owners to safely transport weapons, including ammunition and accessories, even though certain municipalities have laws against it.
Another controversial bill that could be voted on soon is HB 1100. This measure would allow for "driver's certificates" to be issued to individuals who are eligible for a federal tax identification number or a Social Security number (undocumented immigrants). The legislation is one attempt to extend these privileges under the new federal REAL ID Act which was passed in 2001. Law enforcement agencies support this legislation. I am not sure, though, that providing a legal identification document to anyone here illegally is such a good idea. One of the components of the law is that anyone who has a "driver's certificate" must also have insurance.
Finally, HB 1826, which allows for the category of "civil unions" to be added to "marriage" in Illinois law, barely passed out of committee last week and is on the House floor. Proponents argue that the purpose of the bill is to allow for certain legal processes to be available to all people. Opponents argue that this is merely an attempt to present a more publicly accepted category than "same-sex marriage" or "gay marriage" in legal proceedings.
A close look at HB 1826 reveals that it would "allow partners in a civil union to have all of the same protections, benefits, responsibilities under law, whether they derive from statute, administrative or court rule, policy, common law or any other source of civil and criminal law as guaranteed to spouses in a marriage." The language goes on to state, " This act shall be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purpose, which is to provide both eligible same-sex and opposite-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the same protections, benefits and responsibilities afforded by the laws of Illinois to parties in a marriage."
Take a look at any of these bills at www.ilga.gov and let me know what you think about these or any issue of importance to you. E-mail me at email@example.com; write to me at Box 125, Hutsonville, IL 62433; or call us at 618-563-4128. You can also keep up with important issues at my Web site (now with audio clips), www.peopleforeddy.com.
Rep Roger Eddy (R-Hutsonville) represents the 109th District in the Illinois House of Representatives.