When the new session of the Illinois legislature convenes in January, one of the new House members that will be sworn into office is Wheaton's Jeanne Ives, a Republican that will represent the 41st district.
she has even started her first day in office, Mrs. Ives already set
herself apart from other lawmakers by giving her constituents an inside
look at what is going on in our state capital.
Illinois Review-Orientation in Springfield-Perspective from a new legislator
I was so impressed by what Mrs. Ives had to say in her letter to constituents that I felt compelled to seek an interview with her about some of the important issues facing the state of Illinois.
One of the biggest issues with which the state of Illinois has to deal is taxation. There is a push from certain quarters to not only make the tax hikes of 2011 permanent, but to go further and move Illinois away from its flat income tax and to a graduated income tax.
On this topic, Representative-elect Ives began by sharing with me a story about a forum on pensions held in Wheaton that she attended with the TRS executive director and a lady from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.
"That's the first time I'd really heard in such an open forum this call for a graduated income tax. The League of Women Voters, who was hosting the forum, had already been briefed on it and were all in favor of it. When I went down there (Springfield) and was gradually talking to a few of the newly elected Democrat representatives it seemed like it was their talking point," Ives said. "It was like they were already in favor of a graduated income tax. It was almost like they had been discussing it amongst themselves."
As Jeanne Ives and I continued our conversation, she brought up something that she came across in her Wheaton school district newsletter concerning the graduated income tax.
"I find it a little bit alarming that my home school district in Wheaton sent out a newsletter and in it they talked a little bit about the budget, and then they went on to pension and they sent out something from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability had put out about the pension ramp and how it wasn't properly done and how we skipped payments, and then they talked about this graduated income tax," she said.
"Essentially people have not been paying for the services they've been using for all these years and this is why we need to tax people additionally. The whole concept was we hadn't paid enough in taxes already, believe it or not."
I believe that there are tens of millions of people across the
nation(and plenty here in Illinois) who think just the opposite of the
Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, hence the rise of the Tea
Party movement and its motto Taxed Enough Already.
Rockford Register Star-Is graduated tax in Illinois fairer, more sustainable?
Given that the Democrats will hold super majorities when the new legislative session starts in a few weeks, I was curious as to how Jeanne handicapped the odds of the graduated income tax becoming law.
She said, "As far as I'm concerned it's unconstitutional. We can't do the graduated income tax according to our Constitution."
Granted, there is also nothing stopping Mike Madigan and the rest from putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot at some point in the future to pave the way for the implementation of a graduated income tax.
"Their first pick is to make the tax increase that they did in 2011 permanent then they'd try and get the graduated income tax later. That's what I see coming," Ives said.
a strong supporter of the US becoming energy independent, I found a
recent economic study about unlocking Illinois natural gas/oil shale to
be fascinating. In the study it was estimated that more than 45,000
jobs and $9 billion in economic activity could be had if Illinois
harnessed its natural gas/oil shale deposits located in southern
Illinois Review-New natural gas development could create 45,000+ jobs
Ives had read that same study and was curious why Illinois wasn't tapping more into the state's natural gas resources.
"Why isn't this the direction we're going? If you have an advantage in energy and you can produce power for low cost and it resides here in the state of Illinois, then why wouldn't manufacturing companies come here and be near low cost energy?" she asked.
"Manufacturing is a heavy user of energy. We used to be a manufacturing powerhouse. We still have that ability, we still have Caterpillar here," Ives said. "There is no reason if we lead in energy we couldn't also lead in manufacturing at least in this area, in the Mid West. But we're so behind in terms of our policy, and taxes, and right-to-work, and everything else, we're going to get beat."
"We've got Michigan, Indiana, Iowa - they're all doing better than us economically. We are losing businesses to our neighbors and it's not for the weather, its for the political climate."
That is so true. The next time an Illinois business packs up and moves to Wisconsin can we get Scott Walker at least out of the deal?
Since the November election results have been known Republicans both in Illinois and nationally have been doing some soul searching to try to figure out what went wrong. In responding to a general "any thing you want to add/say" question Representative-elect Ives gave some good advice for all Republicans and members of the conservative grassroots.
"We've got to get a lot more people engaged in the political process. We have to get others that need to understand the moral case for reformation in Illinois. For the most part, what we're doing is what's in the best interest of all individuals," she said.
"If you're a Democrat, Independent or Republican, it's important to have a good working government that supports the neediest of the neediest among us, that supports the businesses that are actually employing our people and making things run, and giving government its funding.
"There is a moral case to be called for in terms of education reform, pension reform, tax reform that actually supports the individual and their rights and their ability to improve their lives so that the government doesn't support them throughout their whole life. We've got to make that case. We've got to draw a lot more people into the conversation."
With people like Jeanne Ives leading the way it is certainly possible for those new people to be brought into the political process and talked to about the merits of conservative/Republican policy positions.