Letters to the Editor

Guest viewpoint: Real change needed to improve Illinois

I am responding to the recent letter, “Tax reform desperately needed.”

The fact is that until mid-January 2015, Illinois government was dominated by one-party rule. Leadership accompanies victory at the ballot box, but so does responsibility.

According to experts, the national recession ended in 2008, but while the rest of the nation headed down the road to recovery, Illinois continued on the path to ruination. Today, unemployment is above the national average and workforce participation is at a record low. The Illinois Department of Employment Security reports that Illinois continues to trail the rest of the nation in job growth since the end of the 2008 recession.

In 2014, Illinois ranked third highest for out-migration as people fled for job opportunities in other states, taking their nearly $4 billion of annual income (2012 figures) with them.

From 2003 until 2014, one party was at the helm of the governor’s office, the Illinois Senate and the Illinois House. During this time, billions of dollars in new taxes and regulations were imposed on the Illinois economy. The biggest blow came in 2011 when a lame-duck legislature passed a 67 percent state income tax rate increase; equal to a week’s worth of pay. From 2011 through 2014, the higher state income tax siphoned off $30 billion from the income of families and employers. That’s $30 billion out of the state’s economy for the government they controlled.

From 2003 until 2014, billions of dollars were borrowed in the name of taxpayers and millions more were raided from special state funds as state spending, under Democratic control, increased by an average of about $1 billion per year.

Today, Illinois is $140 billion in (pensions and borrowing) debt and owes more than $5 billion in overdue bills. The dozen years of Democratic party dominance led to consistent credit downgrades by the major national credit-rating agencies. This is why Illinois is considered to be in the worst financial shape of any other state.

Since coming to the State Senate in 2009, I proposed real reform in our state budget process to make government more efficient and accountable. I proposed improvements to the state’s business climate to change burdensome regulations that make it difficult for employers to expand and hire. I proposed real pension reform to protect the solvency of public pension plans, ensure state employees receive what they earned and shield taxpayers from a future massive tax increase.

The biggest obstacle to this reform and renewal is the same Democratic majority that had total control of state government from 2003 until 2014. They are the same majority that are currently blocking every attempt by a new Republican governor to turn around Illinois.

State Sen. Kyle McCarter represents the 54th Senate District.