Rep. McSweeney: High taxes are driving people out of Illinois
April 27, 2018
If I have heard it once, I have it heard dozens of times. The conversation or correspondence usually goes something like this. “David, Illinois is a lost cause. We are putting our house up for sale and moving. We can’t afford to live in Illinois any longer.”
Some might argue this is just anecdotal and not scientific, but the truth is the exodus from Illinois has become an alarming problem that can no longer be ignored. Last year, Illinois lost 33,703 residents and moved from the fifth largest state in the nation to the sixth, behind Pennsylvania. Illinois has lost population the last four years and has lost 643,000 net residents to other states since 2010.
What is even more alarming is our leaders don’t seem too concerned about the continued loss of people. We can no longer ignore the mass exodus from Illinois. It is time for the legislature to take this issue seriously.
To understand how to solve this problem, we need to understand the cause. People aren’t leaving Illinois because of the winter weather. They are leaving because their taxes are too high. The people I have talked to are tired of the high property taxes and tired of the hostile business climate here.
A recent report from the American Economic Development Institute ranks Illinois the 49th worst state for doing business, ranking slightly above California. According to Chief Executive Magazine, Illinois is ranked the third-worst state in the country for doing business.
To keep businesses and job opportunities in Illinois, we must listen to what business owners are telling us. We must lower taxes. We must roll back the recent personal and corporate income tax increase approved last summer. I have filed House Bill 4078 to repeal the 2017 tax increases.
And we must lower property taxes. Illinois has the second highest property taxes in the nation. The high property taxes have an impact on both commercial and residential properties. One way to reduce property taxes is to find ways to reduce the nearly 7,000 units of local government in Illinois. The Land of Lincoln is the sixth-largest state in the country, but Illinois is home to the highest number of local government bodies. This trend of losing population with no reduction in the number of local government bodies is not sustainable.
One thing I am doing locally is working to give voters greater ability to reduce the number of units of local government in McHenry County. House Bill 4637 provides for an automatic 10 percent reduction in property taxes if voters decide to eliminate a township government, and if 5 percent of the total voters who voted in the previous comparable election sign a petition asking for a referendum to eliminate a McHenry County Township, they can get their referendum on the ballot.
This legislation has passed the House and is a start in terms of reducing the number of units of local government in one county in Illinois. We must start somewhere, and I will continue to fight for legislation that gives citizens the power to consolidate or eliminate excessive local governments.
The numbers don’t lie. We are losing residents. The longer we ignore the trend of population loss, the worse the situation is going to become. What we need to do is to attract more jobs to the Land of Lincoln. The only way we can jump-start our economy is to lower taxes and enact business-friendly policies to keep current employers and attract new ones to our state.
David McSweeney, a Republican from Barrington Hills, represents the 52nd district in the Illinois House.