Why Tax-Cut Loving GOP Hates Quinn’s Tax Cut


It’s never really about taxes. It’s about who has to pay those taxes, and who gets to collect them.

The Republican Party likes to claim that tax cuts are its raison d’etre and that Democrats are “tax and spend liberals.”

But this week in Springfield, the Democratic-controlled House said yes to Gov. Pat Quinn's request for a back-to-school tax holiday.

From Aug. 6 to Aug. 15, the state would waive its 5 percent sales tax on clothing that costs under $100, as well as school supplies such as pencils, notebooks and backpacks. The tax break would save parents $50 million.

The GOP almost never meets a tax cut it doesn’t like, but it doesn’t like this one.

“This isn’t a time for tax breaks,” said Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville. “It isn’t a time to give away up to $50 million in sales tax revenue when the state is, for all practical purposes, insolvent. We aren’t paying our bills.”

The Republicans are right on this one, although they may be right for the wrong reasons. The budget gap is the biggest issue of Quinn’s governorship -- the biggest issue any governor has faced in years. Quinn made a big fuss about how it was essential to raise the state’s income tax to pay for education. Now he’s proposing to cut the sales tax so he can pander to parents of schoolchildren during an election year.

It’s easy for the Republicans to oppose this because a) it’s not a big tax cut; b) it’s being proposed by Quinn, who they’re trying to portray as fiscally irresponsible; and c) buying back-to-school clothes isn’t as much of a challenge for suburban families as it is for inner-city single moms.

“This is about people being able to take their kids and bring them to school with a sense of respect,” said Rep. Keith Farnham, D-Elgin.

The Republican Party still wants to cut taxes. It just doesn’t want to cut taxes when it’s Pat Quinn’s idea, and when the tax cuts don’t really help the people it represents. 

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