Gov. Pritzker and the Democrats are taking a victory lap after what Gov. Pritzker calls, “One of the most ambitious and consequential legislative sessions in this state’s history.” And what Madigan calls “an extraordinarily productive session of the General Assembly. Simply historic.”
This session was one of the most consequential sessions in history. The negative consequences will be far reaching and long lasting.
Pritzker, Madigan, the rest of the Democrats, and many in the media define a ‘productive session’ as one where many bills are passed. Whether those bills help or hurt families, or reform government makes no difference in this definition.
Thus, passing a constitutional amendment to give politicians the power to tax incomes at unlimited rates, doubling the gas tax, mandating a statewide $15 minimum wage, raising license plate fees, increasing cigarette and vaping tax, and a new tax on parking garages adds up to productivity in their telling. Not the disaster that it is.
The General Assembly was so productive at passing tax hikes, that they even blew past the regular session deadline on May 31st so they could pass more taxes. Their productivity couldn’t even be slowed by Memorial Day. While you were offering your remembrance and spending time with your family, they were hiking taxes.
It was surely a consequential session for the average Illinoisan who desperately deserves tax relief, yet Springfield continued increasing the tax burden on Illinois families who already are forced to pay the highest state and local taxes in the country.
An actual productive session to put Illinois on a path to fiscal solvency would have included pension reform, Medicaid reform, workers’ comp reform, and imposing spending caps.
The Democrats also expanded taxpayer funding of abortion up until the moment of birth and expect to generate revenue for all of Pritzker’s spending promises with the legalization of marijuana and sports betting as well as opening six new casinos.
Instead of tackling property tax relief head on by passing a 1% hard cap and consolidating or eliminating local units of government, the Democrats created a property tax task force. Which is rightfully raising skepticism as there has been task forces in the past and Illinois homeowners and business owners still pay the second highest property taxes in the nation.
One of the only highlights from session is the continuation of the tax credit scholarship program that provides low income families with the opportunity to escape their failing school district and send their children to a private school they otherwise could not afford. Gov. Pritzker had promised and campaigned on ending the program. But thanks to legislators like State Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) and the sponsors of House Resolution 169 as well as families and private school educators organized by Empower Illinois who went to Springfield to share the stories and successes from the program with legislators, the program was not cut out of the budget.
With the close of session, the era of productivity has passed, now we enter a period of consequences. In the coming months, you’ll see your taxes and fees hiked on a range of issues, and if you don’t act, 2020 will bring a hike to your income taxes and the cycle will repeat.