More taxes, no matter how different or seemingly revolutionary, will not solve the problems plaguing Illinois government. Fixing our state’s problems – including reducing property taxes, addressing our pension liability and limiting the tremendous influence of one lawmaker elected by only a sliver of the state – requires structural reforms.
There’s only one candidate in the race for Illinois governor who will fight for those reforms: Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Rauner’s first term in office did not live up to the high hopes that many – us included – had for change in Illinois. His 44-point Turnaround Agenda for Illinois went largely unachieved because state lawmakers, led by House Speaker Michael Madigan, wanted nothing to do with it.
This time, Rauner, 61, has simplified his message. He wants fair legislative maps to eliminate politicians’ ability to pick their voters. He wants term limits to prevent the rise of dominant career politicians such as Madigan. He wants property tax relief, through eliminating state mandates and empowering citizens to determine their property tax levies on a local basis, so that people stop leaving Illinois.
Rauner has a vast personal fortune in the hundreds of millions, but this time he’s facing an even wealthier challenger in Democrat J.B. Pritzker, 53, whose personal fortune Forbes pegs at $3.2 billion.
The centerpiece of Pritzker’s campaign is a graduated income tax, details of which Pritzker scrupulously has avoided disclosing publicly. Although Pritzker has led some job-creation and public-improvement efforts, he never has held elected office, so it’s difficult to predict what kind of governor he would be.
However, we think voters should be concerned anytime a politician promises to raise taxes without saying who, exactly, will pay more. In the case of Pritzker’s planned graduated income tax, it’s not clear how any plan would be implemented given that changing the taxing model would require a constitutional amendment.
Pritzker’s contention is that the graduated tax would allow the state to provide more support for local school districts and would allow a property tax cut. But again, where are the details? When it comes to taxes in Illinois, we’re done trusting elected officials to do the right thing.
While Pritzker talks of raising taxes, Rauner talks of reforming the system. Efforts to change Springfield and Illinois so far have been met with resistance, but fundamental change never comes easy.
Change will not come at all if voters hand more power to Madigan and the state Democratic machine. Illinois needs a governor who will fight hard for taxpayers against a legislative majority that has proved only too happy to increase fees and taxes rather than make tough decisions on spending.
Illinois needs structural reforms to thrive. Rauner is the candidate we trust most to do that.
Rauner is endorsed.