Political corruption and unfunded pension liabilities are “unfair to Illinois taxpayers”. Initiatives that address government ethics reforms or fiscal responsibility as gerrymandering, term limits or public pension obligations are not on the Nov. 3rd ballot. These initiatives are stalled in Springfield and all attempts to get them on the ballot before the voters were rejected by the political party who controls the Illinois legislative and executive branches. 

Commonplace in Illinois are news reports such as:

Commonwealth Edison agrees to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into a years-long bribery scheme that included various associates of high-level Illinois elected officials.

Federal investigations continue as more pay-to-play schemes are uncovered in Cook County.

Illinois Lottery revenues do not make it into the classrooms; rather, it is eaten up by pensions. 

Today, Illinois does not tax retirement income; however, this could change if a referendum on the Nov. 3 ballot passes. This referendum promoted as “Fair Tax” would allow seniors’ social security and pension income to be taxed at rates greater than that of “billionaires and millionaires.” 

Whenever a politician needs to coin a tax initiative you know it’s a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” The Illinois state treasurer has confirmed the true legislative agenda behind this ballot initiative. In speaking before the Chamber of Commerce, the treasurer stated that if passed, “You can have graduated rates when you are taxing retirement income. And it’s something that’s worth discussion.” 

Illinois retirement income should not be taxed — vote No on this referendum. The proponents of this new tax forget there are many states with no income tax, 49 with lower effective real estate tax rates and 44 with lower sales tax rates than Illinois.

Illinois Democratic senators and representatives should immediately pass legislation with the following measures (note: in Illinois only Democratic support is required since legislation can become law without a single Republican vote):

A tax rollback from 4.95% to 3.0% for individuals and 7% to 4.8% for corporations — an un-kept Springfield promise from 2011. It will stem the flow of citizens who left Illinois, which exceeded 1.6 million between 2014 and 2018 along with businesses.

The tax rollback would be funded with savings resulting from structural reforms of state agencies driven by a cabinet level department managed by someone with business experience.

Adopt ethics reform to eliminate gerrymandering and the disenfranchisement of millions of Illinois citizens.

Increased mental health funding and elimination of the unpaid bills backlog to this safety network.

Furthermore, Illinois Democratic senators and representatives should adopt the following joint resolutions to be presented as referenda to voters at the next general election:

Pension reform that addresses the local real estate tax burden

Term limit ethics reform 

I agree with legislators from surrounding states that any request for federal bailout support be denied until Illinois implements state government ethics and structural reforms and gets its financial house in order. 

If Illinois elected officials are not up to the task they need not seek re-election.

Richard Willis is a resident of Oak Park.

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