GUEST COLUMN: Record Spending Doesn’t Fix Root Causes

With the increased motor fuel tax taking effect July 1, many citizens in Illinois are experiencing the first impacts to their household budgets as a result of Governor Pritzker’s progressive tax-and-spend agenda.

I talk to a lot of people in my role as State Representative and I love it.  I never want to be one of those elected officials who doesn’t take time to listen to their constituents.  When conversations arise at doorsteps, gas stations, at the gun range or the grocery store, I hardly ever have anyone tell me they think the “fix” to our problems is simply to tax hard-working Illinoisans more. Indeed, most everyone tells me they are taxed enough already and demand relief.

I’m not going to single out the motor fuel tax increase, specifically.  We all know that our infrastructure in Illinois needs improvements.  I support more modesty and conservatism in approaching out State finances, with a personal preference to not spend more than we bring in.

Motor fuel tax itself, as an instrument to fund road construction, is not an altogether dysfunctional or misguided mechanism. Especially after the Lockbox Amendment guaranteeing road and bridge funds go to only road and bridge projects passed in 2016. Those who use roads the most pay the most to repair them.  Seems fair enough at a base level.

However, we must recognize these decisions do not hit a taxpayer’s household budget in a vacuum.  Increased motor fuel tax, vehicle registration fee increases, cigarette tax increases, parking taxes, increased sales taxes on online sales, and new gaming fees, all hit shores beginning July 1st.  When I was seeking this job I contended that Illinois must live within its means and not raise taxes under any circumstances. As your State Representative, my opinion hasn’t changed. Additional taxes and fees have and will never fix the underline problems in Illinois.

The State Budget and Capital Plan may have been the largest policy shifts passed within 48 hours in Illinois’ history.  The budget is the largest in the State’s history.  This Spring legislative session, without a doubt, saw the largest policy shifts in modern Illinois history.  However, despite these monumental shifts in public policies, Illinois’ underlying “root cause” problems remain unchanged. Unaffordable pensions remain ignored, billions in unpaid bills still exist and property taxes remain totally out of control.  Little concessions were made by the Democrat Supermajorities to spur job creation or population growth as well.  None of this has changed with these new taxes and fees and none of it will change under this leadership.

The same day the vote was held to increase motor fuel taxes on ALL Illinoisans, legislators gave themselves a pay raise. What an arrogant posture to take from Supermajority Democrats emboldened to feel invincible with their new-found backstop in Governor Pritzker.  In fact, so emboldened were legislative democrats that they spent a full $1.5 billion above the Governor’s original, unbalanced budget request.  So emboldened were they that they allocated more money for their Democrat legislators’ priorities than their Republican counterparts.  Democrat Senators inserted partisanship well beyond traditional political maneuvering that happens far too often with the majority party.  That’s a shame and one that taxpayers should remember.

Syndicated radio financial guru Dave Ramsey is fond of saying, “act your wage.”  Democrat leaders in the Illinois General Assembly would be wise to follow this advice.  The only way Illinois will dig out of our financial problems is when we “act our wage”.  We should not spend more than we bring in, and considering how far in debt we are, we should spend a lot less than we bring in and apply the difference to these root cause problems- unaffordable pensions, unpaid bills, and soaring property taxes.  If we do that, I am confident private industry will come back to our state and help grow Illinois out of this mess.

Rep. Andrew Chesney is State Representative of the 89th District of Illinois. He can be reached on his website at https://repchesney.com/.

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