This week, J.B. Pritzker was sworn in as the 43rd Governor of Illinois. Throughout the campaign, he made a lot of political promises appealing to public sector unions, trial lawyers, and core government interests groups. But, if we are going to save Illinois, serve families, and free people to pursue their dreams and achieve financial security, then we need real structural reform. To do that, we urge Gov. Pritzker to pursue the following policy solutions.
Save Our Homes
Lowering property taxes is the first reform needed to stem the exodus from our state that is separating families and running out some of our most productive citizens. Purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments a person may make in their life and it is wrong that their investment is being destroyed to pay for bloated government bureaucracy.
Consolidation at the local level is needed to eliminate duplicate services and provide its constituents with the most efficient, low cost system possible. Illinois has roughly 7,000 units of local government and 12 million people. Florida on the other hand has a population of almost 19 million people and only 1,650 units of government. Illinois has too many governing bodies and they must be reduced to restore home values and lower property taxes.
According to the Illinois constitution, the state is supposed to be the main funder of public education. The costs to fund schools has been shifted to local governments forcing property taxes to skyrocket and reach to some of the highest costs in the nation. State government must retake its responsibility and lessen the burden on homeowners.
One of the few highlights from state government in recent years was the establishment of a tax credit scholarship program. This program helps families provide the best education possible that suits their child’s specific needs no matter their income or zip code.
There are currently 5,500 students who benefit from the program with a growing waiting list. Parents are desperate to give their children a better education and priority is given to kids whose families are living 185% below poverty level and live in areas with low performing school districts.
It would be a mistake for Pritzker to take away this transformative program that takes children out of their underperforming schools and gives them the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty.
Empowering parents with a choice for their children creates competition amongst all our schools to better the state’s education system.
Government Serving Families
Families should not serve government, government should serve families, particularly those most in need. Yet, in Illinois, that isn’t what happens. Instead, politicians run up debt, using taxpayers as a piggy bank to fund their own pet projects and increase their power.
Our state hasn’t had a balanced budget in almost two decades. This past year’s budget is currently running a $1.5 billion deficit, despite celebrations from both parties calling it “balanced.” No more phony gimmicks like the sale of the Thompson Center or counting on tax dollars that haven’t even been collected or saved yet. The legislature must restore trust and transparency with a balanced budget that prioritizes spending and doesn’t raise any more taxes on the already burdened Illinois taxpayers.
Illinois also has over $133 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. So far, Pritzker and Democrats have mostly focused on how to generate more revenue rather than advocate for policies for structural reform. No amount of taxes will be able to generate the money needed for pension payments now or in the future.
Constitutional reform is needed to adjust the state’s pension obligations and we must immediately put new hires into a 401k system. Until that begins, Illinois will continue digging itself deeper in the hole.
Restore Trust In Government and Ensure Accountability
Political corruption must be rooted out and elected officials must be held responsible for the damage they cause taxpayers.
We have seen political retaliation against Rep. Kelly Cassidy when she questioned Madigan’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against close members of his staff, potential election fraud in the 13th Ward by incumbent alderman and Madigan political ally Marty Quinn, and federal charges against Alderman Ed Burke for his alleged extortion against a Burger King in his ward.
Madigan and Burke are property tax appeals lawyers that benefit from high taxes. The wealthy and well connected hire their firms to reduce the taxes on their properties while the rest of the burden gets pushed on us. That is wrong.
The culture of unchecked corruption in Springfield and those in Madigan’s inner circle have not only hurt people financially but also physically and emotionally.
The statehouse has been wrought with scandal and issues of sexual harassment and misconduct brought to light only recently due in part to the #metoo movement and some brave whistleblowers. Speaker Madigan and the political leadership failed to appoint an Inspector General for four years and failed to protect women.
300 women signed a letter stating they had experienced sexual harassment and abuse while working at the statehouse and even recently an incoming Democratic state rep has said that she has already been harassed. Perpetrators whether they are legislators, staff, or lobbyists must be held accountable for this sort of a behavior and a proper system must be implemented for victims to report their claims.
With your help, we will continue to drive reform and change the status quo. For Governor Pritzker that means he’ll have to choose between standing with the powerful politicians of the past and standing up to those in power, even in his own party.
If he does the latter, he’ll find thousands of families all across Illinois standing up with him.