Eleven years ago this month, Illinois Democrats took over the governor's mansion and both houses of the Legislature. They have maintained that control ever since. Over that time, the ruling Democrats have nearly doubled state spending to an all-time high of $35.9 billion and increased taxes by 67 percent — also to a record high.
Unfortunately, this tax-and-spend-on-steroids approach has not worked for the rest of us. Illinois' unemployment rate is the fourth-highest in the nation, and the state's deficit is largely unchanged three years into the last temporary tax increase, which took a week's pay per year from working Illinoisans. Poverty is up by a third here on the Democrats' watch.
As neighboring Indiana creates one out of every 10 new jobs in America and actually rebates surplus funds to its taxpayers, how do Illinois' ruling Democrats look to solve these ongoing fiscal problems? You guessed it: another tax increase.
HJRCA33 would eliminate our state's flat tax and replace it with a progressive tax, consisting of several rates that increase with income. Proponents say the rich will finally pay their fair share and the rest of us will get a tax cut.
But consider this: In states that have a progressive tax, 85 percent of them apply a higher rate to couples making just $55,000 per year than Illinois' flat tax rate will be a year from now. Do proponents of the progressive tax think families earning $55,000 per year are rich?
Now, here's something else that should really worry people. We are being asked to support this massive change in tax law without having any idea what rates you'll actually be charged if it passes. Advocates claim the highest rates will be between 9 and 11 percent, but nowhere are those rates written into the legislation.
Instead, they want to give state government the right to impose a graduated tax on citizens without committing to the percentage of income they plan to take. Will you be paying 9 percent, 11 percent or more?
Their message is: “Just trust us, vote for this tax increase and we'll tell you later what you will be paying.”
Thanks, but we've been here before. During the last governor's race, Pat Quinn said he would veto any tax increase greater than 33 percent. Right after the election, he signed into law a tax increase twice that large. Remember too when the legislative Democrats promised that their 67 percent tax increase would be temporary? Another promise not likely to be kept.
BY THE NUMBERS
The nonpartisan Tax Foundation recently indicated that the passage of such a plan would leave Illinois ranked 44th in business climate, down from 17th before the last tax increase under Democratic leadership. With Moody's already projecting Illinois to be last in the country in job growth for 2014 and United Van Lines reporting that Illinois has the second-highest outmigration of its residents of any state, our state cannot afford to lose any more jobs or talent.
After 11 years of total control of Illinois government, is this really the best Illinois Democrats can offer — more of the same? How much of our money is enough for them? Doubling down on the failed policies of the last decade with another tax increase truly is the definition of insanity.