Economic Recovery Prevention Commission

I must not have been paying attention, but apparently on June 24 Governor Quinn’s Economic Recovery Commission issued its report. If we’re lucky, this will be one of those that just sits on the shelf.

The whole report is at the link above, or get the pdf from the direct link here, provided by the Executive Service Corps. It seems that a summary would be: “Raise taxes and make them more complicated, then give more subsidies to favored interests.” Among the tax increases are higher individual and corporate income taxes, and a broadening of the sales tax to include more services.

Those of us with a sound understanding of economics will be shocked discouraged to find that there is no mention of increasing the taxes on land value as a way of encouraging development and easing taxes on productive activity.

I’m not likely to review the whole report in detail, and doubtless it contains a few sound recommendations. I’ll just mention two other things that struck me.

First, we all know about TIF’s which divert real estate taxes to private pockets, and there are quite a few TIF’s that divert sales taxes, but this is the first I’ve heard of a TIF that diverts state income tax:

The CenterPoint Intermodal Center in Joliet, a 3,900-acre state-of-the-art, integrated intermodal center,  represents a $2 billion private investment. The center also will receive State investment under theIntermodal Facilities Promotion Act, signed last year. Designed to encourage business development along the freight rail systems of Illinois, the Act authorizes income taxes from jobs created at the facility to be placed in an Intermodal Facilities Promotion Fund. DCEO will administer the fund to reimburse CenterPoint for infrastructure improvements. DCEO will award an annual grant of up to $3 million in fiscal years 2010 to 2016.

Second, among the recommendations is an increase in the public employee retirement age to 72. I am no expert in retirement ages, and probably it’s appropriate to push the age up from 60 (which I believe it is now, and younger in many cases), but 72? No basis is given for choosing this age (other than the obvious fiscal benefits of more workers and fewer retirees. My guess is that nobody takes this recommendation seriously; had they recommended 65 or 67, there’d be a danger that the change might actually happen, but there are probably enough stories of senile 72-year-olds to prevent anything from being done.