Land of Lunkheads
By Patrick F. Cannon
First of all, I want to apologize to the non-Illinoisans among my readers. Although your state may have similar problems, this is meant for my friends and neighbors in the Land of Lincoln.
Now that Governor Pritzker has been sworn in, I want to congratulate you upon taking out your understandable pique about Governor Rauner and President Trump by giving Illinois not only a Democrat governor, but a veto-proof legislature, led once again by those legendary song and dance men, Madigan and Cullerton.
Our position as the most taxed state in the Union is now secure. Expect an early effort to put an amendment on the 2020 state ballot to permit a graduated income tax, with rates to be set by the legislature. As you should know, we now have a flat rate tax, currently at 4.95 percent of taxable income. This is thought to be unfair, since the poor and the rich pay the same rate. That’s certainly true, and means that someone earning $1,000,000 only pays $49,500 in state taxes, while someone with $50,000 in taxable income is forced to pay $2,475. Even at these bargain rates, the top 10-percent of Illinois’ taxpayers pay over 60-percent of the total, as opposed to 70-percent of Federal taxes.
If the amendment passes, I would guess that the top rate would probably be about 10-percent (it’s over 13 in California), with the base rate at maybe three- or four-percent. That million-dollar earner will now pay $100,000 in state income taxes, more than double. This will no doubt accelerate the trend of well-off retirees establishing legal residence in Florida, which has no state income tax (and no winter). I can tell you that members of my own family are among these, as well as several friends. Of course, some high-income earners still have to show up at the office or factory in the state, but increasing numbers can work from anywhere. In case you haven’t heard it from the politicians, Illinois is second in the country in population loss, and Florida is fourth in population gain.
What is not likely to happen is a constitutional amendment permitting changes in public-employee pensions. As you should know, the current constitution does not permit pensions to be “diminished.”, which the courts have consistently decided means that absolutely no changes can be made. The public employee unions love this, and will fight with all their might any attempt to change it (but will vigorously support the graduated income tax amendment). By the way, “diminished” can mean many things, but I should just mention that the majority of judges are Democrats, and most owe their positions to – wait for it – the Honorable Edward Burke; you know, the guy in the Feds headlights, and whose wife is Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.
Speaker Madigan and his lawyers have also successfully blocked any term limit referendum from appearing on the ballot, despite 80-percent of Illinoisans favoring it. Regardless of hundreds of thousands of signatures on petitions, the same courts have always found some technicality to keep it off.
And what possible incentive do Democrats have for supporting a “Fair Maps” amendment that would take control of redistricting away from the majority party and turn it over to a non-partisan commission? They are most certainly going to be in control of state government for the 2020 Census, and thus the map, so Madigan is already licking his greedy chops.
Oh well, as my son-in-law Boyd is fond of saying: “we get the government we vote for.” So, thanks to all you loyal Democrats. Just remember to leave someone behind to turn the lights out.
Copyright 2019, Patrick F. Cannon