Illinois Future: There Is A Choice
Sen. Kyle McCarter
One year ago, as we approached a new year (2017) I stated that 2017 begins with the same big challenges Illinois faced at the start of 2016: No budget, weak economy and politics above people. Regrettably, as 2017 comes to a close we are in much the same predicament. Another year. Again no real progress. However, the new year renews my optimism.
The budget passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature during the summer is $2.6 billion out of balance. It’s not constitutional. And, it included a permanent 32% increase in the state income tax rate. That means government continues to spend more and taxpayers pay even more. The state’s economy remains weak – trailing neighboring states in job creation and posting an unemployment rate (4.9%) that’s above the national average of 4.1%. Additionally, the partisan political battle between Democrats and the Republican governor raged on with the people of Illinois becoming collateral damage. We the people are now saddled with more debt, higher taxes, diminished prosperity and fewer opportunities.
There were many red flags of warning about Illinois throughout 2017, including;
- Among the states with the highest outmigration of people to other states, which leads to wealth flight
- High unemployment, especially for minorities
- A tax burden that exceeds neighboring states
- Property taxes among the highest in the nation
- The second-worst state for fiscal health with more than $9 billion in overdue bills
However, I am an optimist. I have hope for Illinois. Because it is an election year, 2018 could be a turning point if the people of Illinois make their collective voice heard by Springfield. Change is possible. There is a choice to be made between continuing down the same road of failure or embracing common sense practices and principles we know work. These practices and principles are the same ones we follow taking care of our families and small businesses. They should be a confident guide for government too. If we are serious about addressing Illinois’ fiscal crisis we must implement reforms making government more efficient and accountable. It means not spending money we don’t have, and being honest with the people about what we can afford. We need fewer regulatory burdens removing the roadblocks to job growth by boosting business expansion and retention. If our state economy is not growing at a sufficient rate, Illinois won’t receive the natural tax revenue growth needed to pay its bills or pay for the programs our most vulnerable citizens require. And without a growing economy Illinois can’t get out of debt.
The challenges of our state are real and the unwillingness of the political machine in charge to courageously address the reforms needed is obvious as well. We must stand together and demand from our elected officials that they take the political risk to act courageously on our behalf or we will replace them with someone that will. May God bless each of you with His favor in 2018. Together, with God’s help, we can save our state.
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” — Helen Keller (1880 – 1968); American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person (from age 19 months) to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.