Stimulating Growth Through Meaningful Tax Reform

Illinois — This past year, the Illinois General Assembly passed yet another income tax increase that raised taxes on the people that live here and the businesses where they work. You’ll recall the 2011 lame-duck legislature passed a 67% tax increase promising to use the money to pay off a backlog of bills. Taxpayers swallowed this bitter pill because we were told that the increase would only last 3 years.  But instead of paying down the bills and straightening out the budget, the backlog got bigger as the legislature increased spending for those three years.

As proven by the 2011 tax increase, we cannot assume that the Illinois legislature will act responsibly in paying down our debts. If history is any lesson, any new taxes will go towards new government programs – not towards paying down our debt. The simple truth is: most politicians have an innate ability to think up new ways to spend other people’s money.

Therefore, I will oppose any efforts to take even more of your money through higher taxes.  Every economic model and our common sense tells us that when we over-tax residents, many will leave our state. This leaves us with even fewer people bearing the burden of the ever-rising cost of government. The cycle of higher and higher taxes on fewer and fewer people is unsustainable and ethically irresponsible. We need a new way forward for Illinois.

John F. Kennedy was fond of saying that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” This is a reference to an economic principle he applied to tax policy when he pursued cutting taxes and tax brackets. In Illinois we already know that raising taxes chases businesses away. We need incentives for businesses in Illinois so that we can create that rising tide that will create opportunities for our citizens, our children and grandchildren right here in Illinois.

I believe that a sustainable path forward includes targeted spending freezes coupled with tax reform for the state. My economic plan for Illinois includes a freeze on most non-education related spending at their 2017 levels. Let me be clear: this is not a cut; it’s a freeze.  I believe that if an agency was able to operate in 2017 with the funding they received, then they need to hold fast until we can afford any new funding. Most state agencies’ budgets grow every year even if they don’t ask for more dollars. The growth in government is built in. I think this is wrong. I think this is wrong for the same reason it’s wrong to overfeed a goldfish: state bureaucracy – just like goldfish – won’t stop eating until you stop feeding them.

I also want to bring some accountability to state government. We know that waste abounds, and I think many state employees have ideas that can save money. I have a plan that will empower employees and reward savings in any agency in state government. We can incentivize ideas and plans that are adopted and lead to savings. It is fair to share the savings with the agencies that prioritize efficiency and are able to find smarter ways to work. We should reward those agencies who prioritize efficiency – otherwise we are only incentivizing poor stewardship of our tax dollars.

Andrew Chesney is the current Alderman at Large in the city of Freeport, Illinois and candidate for State Representative of the 89th District. He can be reached on his Facebook page, or on his website here.


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