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Rich Whitney, Green Party Governor Candidate, Announces Budget Proposals

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Rich Whitney, the Green Party candidate for Illinois governor, announced his proposal to balance the state budget on Thursday.

The announcement comes a day after Pat Quinn's annual budget address, in which the sitting governor painted the budget crisis as a choice between massive cuts for schools and an income tax increase.

But Whitney has presented a comprehensive plan, incorporating ideas from Republicans, Democrats and independent budget analysts. The plan would generate nearly $16 billion in additional revenues, generating a budget surplus of over $2 billion.

The centerpiece of his plan is based on a bill currently before the General Assembly, Senate Bill 750. The bill would increase the personal income tax to 5 percent from 3 percent; the corporate income tax would go up to 8 percent from 4.8 percent. To offset the effects of the tax hikes on low- and middle-income families, Whitney's plan would create a Family Tax Credit and triple the Earned Income Tax Credit.

"The crux of the problem is that Illinois has one of the most regressive tax systems in the nation, meaning that we tax lower-income residents more heavily than the wealthiest," Whitney wrote in his plan. "In fact, when all taxes are combined, Illinois taxes the lowest 20 percent of income recipients at more than double the rate of the top one percent!"

His tax proposal, which would make the system significantly more progressive, would generate $7.352 billion dollars in new revenues.

Another large source of revenue in the plan is a "financial transactions tax." The tax would be levied on speculative trading, a body of exchanges that Whitney says accounts for more than $1 quadrillion. Even the most minute tax on these exchanges, Whitney argues would help balance the budget.

Other sources of new revenues include creating a state bank, a "fee and dividend" tax on greenhouse gas emissions and targeted cuts of wasteful budget spending.

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Bill Brady has yet to release a complete budget proposal.