Amendment 1 isn’t about taxes? The public pension crisis begs to differ.

Amendment 1 isn’t about taxes? The public pension crisis begs to differ.

Nothing about property taxes in Amendment 1? There’s nothing about the cost in most of what Illinois politicians pass, but there’s usually a surprise for taxpayers hidden somewhere.

When was the last time an Illinois politician told you how much something was going to cost before the fact?

No one said what it would cost when Mike Madigan and other drafters of the 1970 Illinois Constitution bowed to government-union pressure and put in a clause guaranteeing public pensions could never be changed. Fifty-two years later, we now know the cost: $313 billion, or about $64,000 per Illinois household.

State law says the cost should be known when new state laws are passed. In 2019 the Illinois General Assembly passed 1,179 bills. Just 62 carried a price tag.

Now union bosses and even some media claim there’s nothing about property taxes in Amendment 1, the so-called “Workers’ Rights Amendment” at the top of the ballot Nov. 8.

But what the heck ever happens when government unions gain power in Illinois? Does government get any cheaper?

The Chicago Tribune got it when they joined four other news editorial boards in recommending voters reject Amendment 1: “Moreover, since the public sector also has to raise funds to cover its cost, the amendment seems likely to put pressure on property taxes and other sources of government revenues. We’ve not heard a viable counterargument to that. It certainly won’t reduce the size or expenses of government.”

Amendment 1 elevates the rights and powers of Illinois’ government unions above our own. It also restricts state lawmakers from ever changing those powers – the same kind of guarantee that gave Illinois the nation’s biggest public pension debt.

We don’t have massive pension debt because we fail to put enough money towards it – it eats over 25% of the state budget. And pension spending has grown 533% since 2000 and forced 14% cuts to a range of core services, including child protection, mental health, public health and public safety – all things we expect our taxes and state government to do on behalf of our most vulnerable residents.

If you think we are dealing with a group of hapless, underpaid government workers, think again. Illinois has 132,188 government workers making $100,000 or more for a grand total of $17 billion. They include prison barbers making $104,000 and Chicago bus drivers making $242,812.

It would seem their negotiating powers already are more than adequate. The average Illinoisan earns $54,586 and carries the nation’s heaviest state and local tax burden to pay those government costs.

The Illinois Policy Institute projects property taxes will rise $4 billion by 2026 at the current rate of growth if nothing is done. Half of that will be on residential property, at an average of $2,149 per household. Amendment 1 would give government unions more power to boost their paychecks and block property tax reforms.

That means those property taxes to support local government could rise much more than the $4 billion. State taxes could rise faster, too, and Illinoisans are already out an extra $5.24 billion from doubling the gas tax and all the other little taxes Gov. J.B. Pritzker got passed in 2019.

Yup. There’s nothing about property taxes in the Amendment 1 ballot language.

Originally published by The Center Square.

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