Illinois’ $5B tax hike will be eaten up by this year’s pension payment

Austin Berg

Director of Content Strategy

Austin Berg
July 20, 2017

Illinois’ $5B tax hike will be eaten up by this year’s pension payment

Illinoisans can take a look at their paystubs and notice the state decided to hike their income tax bill by 32 percent.

Mikie Larson works as a tutor outside Rockford. Her family can’t take it anymore.

“My husband and I grew up in Illinois, went to college in Illinois, got married in Illinois and raised four kids in Illinois,” she said.

“The income tax hike for us was the last straw.”

The Larsons plan to list their home for sale in the fall and move out of state.

Linda Locke is another lifelong Illinoisan searching for an escape plan. She worked at AT&T for more than 30 years and lives in southern St. Clair County. She feels as though her community is emptying out. She feels the tax hike will worsen that trend.

And she fears she won’t be able to sell her house, as she plans to move to Florida.

As a retiree, her income isn’t taxed by the state. But the lack of reform in the new state budget still stings.

“My property taxes went up $905 this year and there’s no reform [in this budget]. What happens next year?” she asked.

“We love our home, we love our neighbors, but we’re just afraid the property tax is going to continue to go up and we’re not going to be able to afford to live here.

Immediately after the tax hike vote, the spin started. Illinois Senate Democrats had the audacity to tell residents that, well, it’s just not that much. The caucus tweeted:

It’s just a penny. Stop complaining.

Most working Illinoisans can take a look at their paystubs and notice the state decided to hike their income tax bill by 32 percent. That’s a fact.

And it wasn’t just Senate Democrats who were trying to warp history. Senate Republicans said they were doing Illinoisans a favor by voting to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto. Some said it was the toughest vote they’ve ever taken

They said they were brave.

But constituents would be right to cower.

Take Decatur. The former manufacturing titan is home to a sickly economy. Moody’s Analytics revealed earlier this year that Decatur was one of four Illinois metro areas where the recession recovery was at risk of “coming undone.”

As is the case throughout the state, residents there are in dire need of healthier incomes. Even the hope of decent jobs growth would be a vast improvement.

Instead, the average Decaturite will send $580 more each year to state government, according to the Decatur Herald & Review. That’s money that could have been spent locally at struggling small businesses, put toward college savings or spent on household essentials. Instead, it will vanish into a sinkhole of debt that swirls over Springfield.

So what did Decatur Democrat Sue Scherer do? She voted for the tax hike, and gave weak words of consolation to struggling residents.

“Let me be clear: This budget was not everything I wanted it to be,” she wrote in a July 8 editorial.

How comforting.

Unfortunately, it’s not just Scherer. And it’s not just Decatur. The Illinois economy is still in shambles and residents are still stuck with sending a bigger chunk of change to the capitol.

If that’s not sad enough, consider the scale of the spending problem that remains in Springfield. The entirety of the $5 billion in tax increases will be eaten up by this year’s pension payment, and that’s still not enough to address the growing liability.

“I was hoping that when the budget came through there would be some reform; there’s none. Just more taxes,” Larson said.

“I’m tired of it. I’m tired of being the one lawmakers are after.”

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