Ep. 61: Election Day 101: Understanding Illinois’ ballot

Ep. 61: Election Day 101: Understanding Illinois’ ballot

Voting polls have opened for the Nov. 8 general election and Illinois residents can cast their in-person votes at locations statewide. What’s at stake for Illinois? Bryce Hill explains what voters need to know about everything from Amendment 1 to the gubernatorial race to how many candidates are running for Statehouse office.

This week’s Policy Shop is by Director of Fiscal and Economic Research Bryce Hill

With millions of votes expected and much on the ballot for Illinois, what’s at stake in today’s trip to the polls?

Here’s your guide:

Amendment 1.Proposed Amendment to the 1970 Illinois Constitution,” the very first item on the ballot, would grant government union bosses the most extreme powers in the nation, including the ability to override 350 state laws. That endless loop of unlimited government union demands would lead to higher government costs funded through rising taxes. The Illinois Policy Institute estimates the amendment would lock in a total $4 billion statewide tax hike during the next four years. Nearly $2 billion in additional taxes will fall on homeowners, while $1.8 billion will fall on commercial properties. The remainder will fall on farms, railroads and mineral properties.

It is likely why no other state has a similar amendment.

Governor. With opponent Darren Bailey waging a campaign against incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker, it’s worth a look at Pritzker’s time at the top.

During his four-year term, Pritzker introduced 24 tax and fee hikes worth over $5 billion. Subtract Pritzker’s Family Relief Act – temporary tax breaks due to expire soon after the election – and the government under Pritzker ate $2,165 more of the average family’s income. In addition, the average Illinois family is now paying over $2,000 more in property taxes despite his first campaign including a property tax reform pledge.

Meanwhile, Illinois’ unemployment rate is currently the worst in the nation. Already in 2022, major corporations such as Boeing, Citadel, Tyson and Caterpillar have decided to move their headquarters out of Illinois or reduce their footprint in the state. Chief Executive magazine ranked Illinois the third-worst state in the nation for business. Among Pritzker’s tax hikes, $650 million was targeted at businesses during the start of the pandemic.

Down ballot. Illinois voters will see more candidates for Statehouse office than they have in at least 20 years thanks to robust recruitment. During the past two decades, nearly half of Illinois’ 118 House races went uncontested. But this year, millions of Illinois voters will get to make a choice for who will represent them in Springfield. As a result, over 75,000 more voters are expected to turn out at the polls in 2022. The vote total is expected to reach about 4.3 million.

So what’s at stake? With rising taxes, homeownership is a struggle and businesses are moving elsewhere.

The main way to take a stand against rising taxes is by voting down Amendment 1.

As former Democratic Chicago Ald. Michele Smith said, she recommends a “no” vote on Amendment 1 because the Illinois Constitution doesn’t need another restriction to keep state lawmakers from fixing the state. Smith, who resigned in July, wrote in an email to her neighbors three reasons why she’s voting “no” and urged her community to do the same.

  • “First, this amendment would tie the hands of our legislatures to make even the smallest changes on employment issues, much as our state constitution’s ‘pension clause’ has made it impossible to realistically align pensions to the real needs of our employees and the costs to the taxpayers.”
  • “Second, we don’t know what the amendment covers. For example, in 2019, striking teachers wanted to require [Chicago Public Schools] to negotiate broad affordable housing policy – an arbitrator ruled that they couldn’t. But this amendment has new language about ‘economic welfare’ that is undefined.”
  • “Third, it is likely that amendment would apply only to public-sector workers instead of say, Starbucks employees who seek a union, because private-sector workers are already covered by the National Labor Relations Act, which would likely supersede any state law or state constitutional provision.”

We’ll see what happens as the polls close and votes get counted this week.

If you haven’t yet, get out and vote today. Find your local polling location place here: https://illinoispolicy.actcentr.com/Vote.


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