“I grew up in Illinois. I joined the military, took off, went out west, lived out there for a while. I came back and finally married my wife. She’s from Farmington, so I moved out here. We might be here another three years.

“I approached my father-in-law about a year and a half ago about coming into the business. He knows the bar business, he’s had different bars all around Farmington. Now the LLC is in my name. So I own this one here, he just owns the building.

“Most of the time we have locals. Every other Saturday, because we have karaoke, we’ll pull in from some of the surrounding towns. You get a lot of different characters around here. Wonderful individuals.

“If [the progressive tax] happens, it will shut a lot of people down. Just because we won’t be able to take on that kind of burden. There’s just no way.

“We’re barely making it with the new taxes that they keep throwing at us. We just got hit in July with the video poker tax, and that means we’re getting less revenue from that. If they hike it one more time, those are gone.

“I have my day job. That was kind of enough to survive. And then once [property] taxes started to roll a little bit harder, I needed to make money somewhere else. I was thinking [Benny’s] could be retirement. This could be something I could put in the bank and retire with and be comfortable; something that we could give to the kids. Right now, it’s getting more and more dark. Looking at it, it’s just not feasible.

“All the new taxes in July. That really hurt us. I know we were all starting gear up for it because we knew it was coming, but I didn’t expect it to hit as hard as it did.

“The progressive tax is … the best way I can say it is it’s a scam. They don’t spend the money wisely anyway. If we can’t trust them with what they have … no matter what money they’re going to get, they’re just going to say ‘that’s not enough, we want more.’ Eventually there’s just going to be nothing to give.

“A regular pocketbook, you can only spend as much as you earn. Unfortunately, they just don’t have that mentality in Springfield. It’s just, ‘don’t you worry, vote ‘yes’ for this.’ I’m hoping that it doesn’t pass.

“With the two kids that we still have in school, we’ve talked at great length about getting out of Illinois. [My kids] don’t want to move. They have a lot of their family here and it would be a major shift for them to be in a whole new spot.

“In Illinois, you’re trapped. You have to try to make every penny stretch. They keep asking for more of that penny.”

Al Lashbrook
Benny’s Corner Bar & Grill
Farmington, Illinois