The Illinois General Assembly’s 2017-18 state budget tore a page from the script of “Casablanca,” the 1942 Oscar-winning movie, but lawmakers likely didn’t realize it.
In the movie, nightclub owner Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart, reproaches Signor Ferrari, played by Sidney Greenstreet, for always withholding a percentage of Rick’s liquor shipment.
Smiling, the sly, rotund Ferrari responds, “Carrying charges, my boy, carrying charges.”
The new state budget, approved July 6, casts the Illinois Department of Revenue in the role of the cagey Ferrari.
In the role of Rick are local governmental officials who wonder why 2 percent of certain local sales tax dollars, collected by the Department of Revenue, are suddenly being withheld.
Why, it’s simple.
Carrying charges, my boy, carrying charges.
In this case, those new “carrying charges” were authorized by Illinois lawmakers, mainly Democrats, who overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the state budget.
We believe municipalities and counties are justified in crying foul over the new fee, which was opposed by the Illinois Municipal League.
The amount isn’t trivial. The Department of Revenue estimates the fee will total about $60 million a year in new revenue for the state.
Correspondingly, that means $60 million less for municipalities and counties.
An additional sneaky aspect of the fee: it took effect right away, meaning local units of government had no opportunity to factor the reduction into their current budgets.
The state tried to lessen the blow by promising to speed up distribution of other tax dollars.
Ha! We’ll believe that when we see it.
This sneaky fee is a perfect example of the types of nefarious measures that can be hidden in last-minute legislation cooked up behind closed doors by sly politicians.
We see this as an underhanded scheme to spirit away a share of local sales tax dollars from the local coffers for which they were intended, and we don’t care for it one bit.
And we wonder, will politicians remain satisfied with the 2 percent fee? Will they eventually increase it to 3 percent, 4 percent, 5 percent or more?
That remains to be seen.
How can the public put an end to such duplicity?
Round up the usual suspects – the ruling Democrats in Springfield – and make every effort to vote them out of office!