Representing a legislative district bordering another state provides a unique perspective on how decades of poor spending and policy decisions drive Illinois families out of the state. I hear from friends, neighbors and constituents it simply does not make fiscal sense to stay in a state that continues to ask more from its residents without addressing the problems causing our continuing fiscal crisis.
Illinois has the highest tax rate in the nation according to a new report from WalletHub. Illinois families are paying a combined 14.9 percent state and local tax rate while the national average is 10.7 percent. This is why Illinois, once again, leads the nation in outmigration of residents who pack up and leave for other states.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker promised us big ideas to fix the issues plaguing our state, but what big ideas did we get in the governor’s budget address? Not much. Pritzker offered minuscule budget cuts, no reforms, more skipped pension payments and a call for more than $1 billion in new revenue and taxes.
It does not stop there because Pritzker also wants to increase the burden on hardworking Illinoisans with a tax hike on the middle class.
Currently, the Illinois Constitution requires a flat tax on income. The flat tax provides important protections for Illinois taxpayers by forcing politicians in Springfield to face economic and spending realities. If the state raises income taxes, every citizen fairly receives the increase.
Springfield Democrats propose amending the constitution to remove this fiscal safeguard with a tax on the middle class through a graduated tax structure. In an attempt to convince Illinoisans, Democrats are making a lot of promises about who will pay more and who will pay less under their plan.
Do not be fooled by these empty promises. Tax hike proponents have only one goal in mind — to get a blank check from Illinois families and businesses to raise taxes, especially on the middle class. We simply cannot trust Springfield with more of our money.
Democrats promised us a “temporary” tax increase in 2011 to get Illinois’ finances back on track with a leading House Democrat promising, “This is a comprehensive package that will move us a long way toward driving down our spending, paying our past due bills, and achieving fiscal stability.” None of this happened.
By 2013, Illinois saw more pension debt, more spending and two credit downgrades. This “temporary” tax increase became permanent when the General Assembly passed yet another massive tax hike in 2017. Did we see any results? No, we heard more promises from House Democrats promising, “It creates revenue, and along with the spending package, there will be several hundred million dollars that would be a surplus that could be used in a number of ways to pay down the pension.” Did this happen? No.
The two previous tax increases were just empty promises. We need real fiscal reform — not another promise that another tax increase will fix our state. It will not.
Democrats and Gov. Pritzker are again asking us to hand them a blank check based on another promise just to trust them. I can’t and I won’t trust them on this issue. Why should people trust them when they have no plan to reform the way our government operates, fund our pension systems, repair our structural deficits or eliminate government inefficiencies. Certainly, there is no plan to offer relief from our crushing property tax burden.
If Democrats get their way, nothing is stopping them from raising taxes on everyone again. I say no to a blank check and no to this UNFAIR tax.
Lindsay Parkhurst, R-Kankakee, represents much of the area as representative for the 79th District of the Illinois House.