Lawmakers approve dreaded Illinois tax hike

Illinois politicians got an early jump on their yearly questionable behavior quota Wednesday morning, when in the last hours of the lame duck legislative session Democrats hammered through the biggest single tax increase in the state’s history.Yes, that’s right-we’re going to get taxed even more. At a time when numerous other states and the federal government have decided to decrease taxes on personal income, Illinois has decided to raise them.

Granted, this is not a complete surprise. Illinois and the city of Chicago have had some of the country’s highest taxes for years, and Gov. Pat Quinn was just re-elected in November with the campaign promise to raise taxes one percent. With this in mind, one could argue we should have seen this coming, but the fact of the matter is that we in Illinois never fail to get blind-sided by our trusted representatives. We agreed to raise our income taxes by a percent when we elected Quinn, but with the state headed for bankruptcy, it seemed a reasonable-though not ideal-sacrifice to make.

Then came the lame duck session-or more appropriately, the infuriatingly sneaky duck session. For those who don’t know, the lame duck session is the time period between the election and the swearing in of the newly elected candidates. It is during this time that politicians who know they’re about to get kicked out of office discard all of sense of dignity and attempt to push through as much unpopular legislation as humanly possible. What do they care? They’ve essentially just been fired and don’t feel responsible for what the people want anymore.

Anyway, these particular Democratic ducks decided since they were going to have a drastically decreased majority after the stroke of noon on Wed., Jan. 12, they better simultaneously fulfill and break some gubernatorial campaign promises before any newbies could interfere.

To fulfill one campaign promise, they decided to start raising people’s taxes, but they also decided to double said raise. Instead of the one percent promised in November, Gov. Quinn and the Democrats officially raised personal income taxes from three to five percent and corporate taxes from 4.8 to seven percent in one fell swoop by a grand total of four votes in both houses and without the support of a single Republican.

While these percentages may seem tiny, I assure you it is an illusion. In practical terms, this 66 percent increase in taxes means that for every $1,000 a person was paying in income tax before, they will now be paying about $1,667. Speaking as an individual who has come to appreciate the true value of a saved dollar, I can say with the utmost of confidence that people will have better things to spend the extra six-hundred-plus dollars on.

Yet, this is not the only problem that is bound to arise from this fiscal fiasco. The considerable hike in corporate taxes, while seemingly less inconvenient to most people, stands to do the most long-term damage. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, our economy is still terrible. No matter what the politicians say about positive growth, we are still fighting a recession and the last thing struggling businesses need is more bills and less money to spend on new employees.

One of two things is going to happen as a result of this. Either businesses will close down and flee the state, increasing the already sky-high unemployment rate, or corporations, in order to protect their own stock holders, will be forced to pass the tax along to their customers and raise their prices. Either way, the conclusion is the same: average citizens are going to get reamed. That’s just the Illinois way.

So hats off to Gov. Quinn for successfully finagling a plan to raise money for the state of Illinois. He’s made our neighboring states very happy; they’ll make a fortune off our fleeing businesses.