People who follow the news often have some idea about all the wretched things—taxing, spending, regulating—originating in Washington, DC. Other concerned citizens keep themselves current about the rotten doings of Springfield. But, as bad as these are, there is a whole third level of misery out there, which is not as well-known and rarely all compiled in one place.

The fine folks at Americans for Prosperity-Illinois are helping to fix that. They have put together a list of the 137 tax increases which are currently proposed in 62 Illinois counties.

Using the list of referenda from the Illinois State Board of Elections, a helpful page linked by the Americans for Prosperity-Illinois site, you can find your own local unit of government and see just how it plans to reach its claw more deeply into your pocket.

Many of these increases sound innocuous. Here’s one:

In Nilwood Township, surely, no one begrudges a barely-noticeable .3796% increase on taxable property for the worthy public goal of “road purposes.” Looked at another way, however, this is a 59.6% increase in this particular tax, which seems like a lot. And all flippancy aside, we hope the citizens of Nilwood Township weigh this question carefully before they vote.

AFP IL graphicBut the iron laws of political science tell us that the people who benefit from this smidgen of a tax increase will surely all be organized and turn out in force. Many, other voters will not know much about the tax increase and will not be organized to stop it, even if it is unnecessary. So, tax increases like this one often pass.

If you add them all up, over time these incremental increases pile up and become a serious burden on residents and the local economy.

And if we step back from the individual cases and peruse the entire list of referenda. A troubling fact becomes apparent. Amongst all these worthy-sounding initiatives it appears that there are no offsetting cuts, nary a shaven point or two, no tiny little rollbacks to local taxes.

Not even one. The process is not being reversed anywhere, even a little. It is all one way.

Those same iron laws of political science tell us that it is far less likely that anyone will do the work needed to make incremental cuts, which will bring them only a small benefit, but where every penny of tax revenue will have ferocious defenders.

Nonetheless, our friends at Americans for Prosperity are not just sharing bad news about these referenda. They are offering to help push back against tax and debt hikes. If your municipal or county government has a spending referendum, you can get in the fight to stop it. It’s only a few days until April 9, 2013. But in low-turnout elections, a few votes can make or break a referendum.

We hope to see more initiatives like this one from Americans for Prosperity in the future. A permanent mobilization of citizens against increased spending will help to turn back the tide.

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