Cal  Thomas
The contrast between what Illinois Democrats did last week and what Republicans have done in Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia and New Jersey, could not be clearer.

In Illinois, Democratic legislators and a Democratic governor pushed through a massive 67 percent personal income tax hike (and a 46 percent boost in corporate taxes), claiming an accompanying "cap" would mean no new spending. Sure.

Illinois is caught in a trap of its own making, agreeing with unions (the Democrat base) to pay exorbitant amounts of retirement and health benefits to public employees the state cannot afford. Governors in nearby states are inviting Illinois residents and businesses to move from Illinois. No doubt many will accept those invitations, taking their money and their jobs with them.

California is a failing state, having overpromising public-sector workers at the expense of the private sector. And it's not alone. According to Bloomberg, "More than 80 percent of the nation's 27 million state and local government workers and retirees are covered by public pensions. Yet the median state plan had enough money to pay just 76 percent of its obligations as of Aug. 20, 2010." Data compiled by the University of Rochester and Northwestern University found that "six cities -- Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Fla., Philadelphia and St. Paul, Minn. -- will run out of pension money by 2020." States that have had enough have Republican governors who are committed to reducing spending and taxes.

In his State of the State address last week, Indiana Republican Mitch Daniels, properly took credit for policies that have placed his state among the financially strongest in the nation: lowest property taxes in the country and matching spending to income by eliminating "nice to do" programs, focusing instead on "must do" ones.

Daniels noted, "Elsewhere state government payrolls have grown, but here, we have the nation's fewest state employees per capita, fewer than we did in 1978." He said that during the current recession "at least 35 states raised taxes, but Indiana cut them. Since '04, the other 49 states added to their debt, by 40 percent; we paid ours down by 40 percent." Other states went into the red, he said, but in Indiana "our savings account remains strong, and our credit AAA."

Daniels spoke of "protecting the taxpayer" and added, "...whatever course others may choose, here in Indiana we live within our means, we put the private sector ahead of government, the taxpayer ahead of everyone, and we will stay in the black, whatever it takes."

Unless you're a retired state employee in Illinois, you are probably on your feet shouting, "Yes! This is what I've been waiting to hear!"


Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
 
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