by Taylor Smith
It’s no secret that Illinois’ record income tax hike has failed to revive Illinois’ fiscal health. But it also has dramatically exacerbated the state’s economic outlook on many levels. Since the tax hike, Illinois’ unemployment numbers have worsened. In 2011, Illinois’ unemployment rate increased most in the nation – by far – with 46 other states having seen their rates drop.
Illinois taxpayers also saw their state earn the lowest credit rating for investors in the nation, a status California has maintained comfortably for years. Moody’s Investors Service said the reasons for the downgrade were the state’s severe unfunded pension liability, and chronic bill-payment delays. These are the exact ailments a record tax hike is supposed to alleviate.
Assuming they didn’t move to a more tax-friendly state, the average Illinois family committed an extra $1,488 of their income to the state government. What they saw in return were headlines citing the aforementioned information. These headlines sent a clear message to Illinois taxpayers that the higher taxes they paid last year were not able to revive the state's fiscal health.
In response, Illinoisans across the state have publicized their disapproval of the tax hike in various letters to the editor.
In Rockford, Dave Willis questioned the judgment of his elected officials in a letter to the Rockford Register Star:
Governor Quinn tried to sell the higher taxes as a way to pay overdue state bills. After the tax was approved, not one dime of new money was earmarked in that direction. It all went for new spending.
Meanwhile, in Moline, Jane Reinhardt-Martin wrote a frustrated letter on Quad-Cities Online calling out her elected officials, both of whom voted for the tax hike and so far have not publicly responded to its results:
One year ago, both Verschoore and Jacobs voted "yes" on SB 2505, which increased Illinois income taxes from 3 percent to 5 percent (a 67 percent tax hike) and corporate income taxes from 4.8 percent to 7 percent (a 68 percent tax hike). According to Verschoore, "It was the right thing to do." Where are the town-hall meetings to inform their local citizens the status of this "temporary" fix? Are they too embarrassed to face the very people who elected them in office?
From Lake Bluff, Nancy Thorner responded to a State Journal-Register article that claimed repealing the tax hike would actually worsen the state’s financial problems. In the letter, Thorner outlines three questions that are likely to be what some anti-reform lawmakers have been trying to avoid:
1) What has been done to curb spending in the state? 2) How was the $7 billion tax rate hike spent? 3) Why the urgent need to borrow $800 million more in the near future if the tax rate hike did so well in 2011 in adding to the state coffers?
If lawmakers in Springfield do not take notice of the disapproval shared by concerned citizens across Illinois, they could witness an even greater exodus of businesses and families leaving Illinois.
If you're a concerned citizen who wants to help turnaround Illinois, and compel lawmakers to follow the will of the taxpayers they represent, here's how, you can contact your elected officials, write a letter to editor and if you haven’t already, sign our petition to repeal the income tax hike.