Repeal the Illinois income tax increase!

House Speaker Michael Madigan laughs it up at your expense. ( Tribune photo by Michael Tercha / January 29, 2009 )

ObamaCare and a trillion dollars of bailouts ignited a firestorm of protest that scorched the self-satisfied Democrats. Will the 67 percent increase in the personal property tax ignite a similar tea party-like protest in Illinois. Will the public rise up, like it did against ObamaCare, and demand the tax increase's repeal.

Here is an excellent explanation of why the tax increase must be repealed. It is written by John Tillman, chief executive officer of the Illinois Policy Institute. Pass it around.

On the same day the General Assembly abolished the death penalty for capital crimes in Illinois, lawmakers also implemented the death penalty on Illinois's economy and taxpayers by passing a 67 percent income tax hike in the face of overwhelming public opposition. The good news is that the citizens of Illinois have the power to overturn this effort during the 2012 elections, now just over a year away.

This tax hike tells the working and middle class voters of Illinois where they stand with the Democratically controlled state government - on the outside looking in. At the front of the line are the public employee unions, their leaders and all who benefit from state government spending at the expense of average citizens (who pay for state government with their private sector jobs).

Today's study on taxpayer migration shows that the negative Illinois environment is not just driving out job creators and workers, but also the income and tax revenue they represent. Between 1991 and 2009, one Illinois citizen left the state every 10 minutes - that's 1.2 million residents in all. But these folk didn't just take their friendships with them; they took $163.6 billion in income and $16.9 billion in state and local tax revenue - gone forever.

We now know what Governor Quinn, Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton think of all of this - they don't care. If you are a doctrinaire liberal Democrat, you could defend the tax hike on the merits. However, to be sincerely focused on fixing Illinois's structural overspending, you would still have to take on the public employee pension bomb. The three leaders did not do this; they have let the pension bomb continue to tick while reaching into working and middle class taxpayers' wallets to the tune of $7 billion.

Make no mistake, the folks in charge in Springfield are fully, transparently aligned with the status quo of economic decline and mass exodus. To learn how big that exodus has been since 1991, see our Leaving Illinois study.

Is it hopeless? No, in fact, they have done us all a favor. While the Institute does not get into elections and electioneering, that does not prevent us from commenting on them. The truth is that this election did not reflect the will of the broad public in Illinois - it reflected the will of the voters who actually showed up on Election Day.

The truth is that the Republican election shortfalls on November 2, 2010 are quite explainable. While there are many factors, the most telling is that Cook County turnout was 51 percent while the 96 downstate counties turned out 47.7 percent. If there had been a turnout plan in place to match that 51 percent turnout in those 96 counties, you would have a Gov. Brady in place rather than Gov. Quinn. And even if this tax monstrosity passed in the lame duck session, a Gov. Brady could have done much to mitigate its impact with his veto power going forward.

So the lesson is that we all must be honest with ourselves and address our policy, our activism and our political weaknesses as a movement. And remember, I am not saying that electing Republicans is the solution, far from it as evidenced by the GOP votes on the pension borrowing in the Senate. But what I am saying is that those who are driven by principle and policy have a pathway to change electoral results in 2012 and beyond. And changing electoral results is a step forward in changing the policy results.

Finally, to be clear on the stakes and the goal, the Illinois Policy Institute stands for a policy of not just repealing the tax hike, but rather eliminating income taxes in total. Nine states have no income taxes. Our mission should be nothing short of becoming the 10th. That is a goal worth fighting for. It would restore economic liberty - and when liberty prevails, prosperity follows, especially for the poor and disadvantaged.


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  • Since it would undoubtedly be vetoed, do you or Tillman have the 36 votes in the Senate and the 71 in the House? Do you really think that the suburban Democrats are going to come back to their senses?

    This seems about as likely as the Tribune editorial board lobbying for Madigan's defeat, even though those of us in the other 117 districts don't have a vote on the matter.

    And, if Tillman is hoping for 2012 (before which the Democrats will have further reapportioned things to their advantage) or 2014 (the next governor's election), that will be way too late.

    Come up with something practical.

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