Positively Naperville: More Taxes, Few Reforms

At the end of January, Governor Pritzker will deliver the annual State of the State Address. I have no doubt he intends to take a victory lap for all his “great legislative accomplishments” from 2019. I’ll agree, there are a few accomplishments to be proud of from 2019:

  • Creation of the Blue Collar Jobs Act, which offers tax incentives to companies making significant capital investment in Illinois;
  • Tax incentives to attract data centers to Illinois, which will provide good construction jobs and high-paying long term technology jobs;
  • Extension of the Manufacturing Machinery and Equipment exemption to production-related tangible personal property to include certain supplies and consumables used in a manufacturing facility;
  • The phasing out of the Corporate Franchise Tax;
  • Preserving the Invest in Kids program.

There’s a problem though, none of these proposals were from the Governor. In fact, the Governor either rejected these ideas or planned to do away with the preexisting ones in his original budget proposal. In fairness, I will commend the Governor for his willingness to negotiate on these items. However, when I talk to residents in our district there is one issue more than any other that always comes up – you know what it is – taxes. It is obvious why – Illinois imposes nearly the highest overall tax and fee burden of any state.

We all recently received our quadrennial property tax reassessment; I’m sure I’m not the only one in DuPage County who isn’t thrilled with what they received. So, high taxes and fees being by far the most important thing to everyone – how did the Governor fair in this reform category:

  • Gasoline tax doubled from 19 cents per gallon to 38 cents per gallon;
  • Diesel fuel tax increased by 24 cents to 45 cents per gallon;
  • Vehicle registration fee increased by $50 to $151;
  • $100 increase to truck registration fees;
  • Increase to the electric vehicle registration fee from $17.50 to $251;
  • Proposed a graduated income tax to raise taxes by $3.5 billion;
  • Property Tax Relief Task Force that met twice and missed its initial report deadline.

There are others, but you get the point. Even when we take a couple small steps forward, as I mentioned at the beginning, there are as many or more steps taken backward. We’ve seen nothing from the Governor to improve the efficiency of government, nothing to ensure the state’s resources are being prioritized so they are channeled toward the delivery of services to our most vulnerable citizens, and nothing that helps taxpayers.

In the end, taxes have gone up again and virtually no serious steps were taken to fundamentally reform state government and create cost savings for taxpayers. In my eternal optimism, I hope for better in 2020.