Illinois taxpayers have had “Enough!”
On Wednesday, June 29, dozens of Illinois newspapers informed the General Assembly and their readers in an op-ed on the front page that the state has had “Enough!” and demanded that the budget standoff be resolved and resolved now.
Illinois taxpayers are the ones who should be demanding, “Enough!” with the state currently spending $33 million tax dollars a day more than revenues. The crux of the fiscal crisis is uncontrolled, excessive overspending of any amount of tax revenue received by Springfield.
Illinois taxpayers know that they will ultimately be the ones on the hook with higher taxes or fees to repay the borrowing for Springfield’s unconstrained expenditures and for legislators transferring state responsibilities through unfunded mandates to local property owners.
Governor Rauner was elected by a majority of state voters just one year ago to stem three decades of financial mismanagement by the Illinois General Assembly, and to initiate new methods of raising revenue by increasing economic growth through a pro-business agenda, and to offset increased spending for new government services, while holding down income taxes and freezing property taxes as promised.
Taxpayers need to obtain relief from unreasonable government services and exorbitant public employee health benefits and pensions approved by the legislators, which are much more generous than those available in private industry, in order to buy votes so those in Springfield may remain in power.
The only ones deemed worthy of consideration in the “Enough!” op-ed were those on the receiving end of the state’s benevolence – public unions, social service providers and construction projects.
The op-ed only mentions taxpayers indirectly as the source of more revenue to staunch the state’s “financial bleeding” under the guise of a balanced budget, which will be hidden from voters until after the November elections.
The op-ed fails to mention that the “financial bleeding” is a self-inflicted wound due to the financial mismanagement of House leader Michael Madigan, who for over 30 years has repeatedly put public employee union’s salary and benefits above core services.
According to the Illinois Policy Institute’s, “2016 Special Summer Report,” state per capita revenues have grown 70% more than inflation over the last 33 years. Despite this double-edged growth in revenue, state politicians continue to spend more than the state receives.
The growth in funding for public employees pay and benefits has increased by 600% from 2000 to 2015. Funding for core services is much lower and has decreased during that same period by 8% for higher education; human services funding is up by 10%, public safety spending is up by 12% and funding for K-12 has increased by 35% – over 17 times less than increases for public employees.
Calls for more tax revenue by the op-ed and service providers fail to mention that hikes in the income tax during 2011-2014 did nothing to resolve the state’s fiscal crisis. The legislature diverted that revenue from core services by doubling payments to pensions, while funding for K-12 and higher education actually fell by nearly 10%.
One solution being considered after the November elections, by Senate leader Cullerton and others, is taxing “fixed” retirement income of private workers to pay for public worker’s pensions and annual pension increases that private retirees do not receive.
Due to legislators’ unfunded mandates and lack of laws to consolidate over 7000 local taxing districts, Illinois has the highest median property tax rates in the nation and twice the national median. Since 1990, residential property taxes have increased by 3.3 times the rate of median household income.
Many Illinois homeowners are paying more in property taxes than they do on their mortgages, while property values have fallen by 11% in the state and over 25% in Winnebago County.
Rockford property owners pay nearly twice the state’s median property taxes!
The six month stopgap budget, approved last week, overrides state statutes allowing the City of Chicago to raise property taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars to pay CPS teachers pensions.
In 2006, Springfield overrode state statutes allowing all local state municipalities to raise property tax rates higher than previous state limits allowed under Tax Caps.
Illinois taxpayers have had “Enough!” and must demand better use of our hard earned tax dollars. We can no longer support the pound of flesh demanded by the Springfield majority and their tax supported minions throughout the state!