While Election results from Tuesday’s General Election will not be certified for several weeks, it certainly appears that voters have summarily rejected an effort backed by Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois Democrats to change our State Constitution to allow for a progressive income tax increase, which they believed would annually raise $3.7 billion in new taxes.
It is not surprising that voters are sick and tired of the games played by Springfield politicians with continual and broken promises on tax increases. Indeed, past “temporary” income tax increases were made permanent with little political backlash for Democrats. Lottery money was supposed to go to schools, but it took decades to “fix” the law to require it. We have seen this act before, time and again.
So, now what? Democrats can take one of two routes here. One is far more likely than the other, based on past precedence.
The less-likely route is that they take this loss to heart and adjust state spending to match state revenues. While this concept is required by law, Democrats predilection for lawlessness has applied as equally to our balanced budget amendment as it has our ethics laws. In the past, they have repeatedly spent more than we bring in and covered it with smoke and mirror budget schemes. They could convene the Illinois General Assembly and immediately set to task of scaling state government to match state revenues. Of course, this can only be done by addressing major spending reforms and reforming our pension system. Local government pension spending now occupies over $.25 of every dollar brought in by local government and state pensions are in even worse shape. Some communities are passing new “public safety pension taxes” in lieu of property tax increases, just to try to keep up with mandates set by Springfield and outside of their local control. Pension Reform is a strong pre-requisite to any major spending reforms if Democrats are honest about these issues.
The more-likely route for Democrats is to continue to push for a Progressive Tax in 2022. Recognizing record high voter participation in this Election, Democrats may simply try this whole shtick again in 2022. Despite the hundreds of millions spent by proponents in the past months, they know this means several billion in annual spending increases for pet projects, so they may not take the hard lesson here, at all. They may simply try to slip this by voters again, hoping they are less engaged next time.
Northwest Illinois voters were kind enough to return me to Springfield to fight for taxpayers. It is a privilege to serve and I will not take the opportunity for granted. But I also ask taxpayers to hold ALL our elected officials’ feet to the fire in fighting for these needed reforms.
Vigilance is needed, now more than ever. Do not rest on your laurels following this apparent victory. Demand property tax reform. Demand pension reform. Demand Illinois stop its corruption tax paid by victims of politicians’ mismanagement. It is the only way to be sure Illinois Democrats finally begin to receive this message. “We are taxed too much already.”
Andrew S. Chesney is an elected Republican member of the Illinois House of Representatives for the 89th district.