Madison Record|No exit strategy from Illinois budget standoff

Director of Operations for Taxpayers United of America’s, Jared Labell, had his letter to the editor about Illinois’ budget featured by Madison Record.

To the Editor:
Eight members of Illinois’ General Assembly met on Monday at a forum to discuss the state’s prolonged budget impasse. Although the legislators agreed in general that reforms are necessary to break Illinois’ budget gridlock – now in its 10th month – there was no indication that the Illinois General Assembly, or these officials in particular, had formed a clear exit strategy.

The Illinois Budget: Defining & Funding the Essential Priorities, organized by The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and Truth in Accounting, featured Representatives Bellock (R), Crespo (D), Davis (D), Harris (D), Morrison (R), and Pritchard (R), as well as Senators Murphy (R) and Steans (D).
Sen. Murphy and Rep. Morrison both called for amending the Illinois Constitution’s government-employee pension protection clause to solve the state’s towering unfunded government pension liabilities, which was the best measure offered at the forum, although also the one with the greatest difficulty to pass. The most worrying proposals for taxpayers were only abstract, and the suggestions varied, including increasing sales taxes or expanding the sales tax base, a graduated state income tax, hiking the state income tax, and imposing a new income tax on retirement benefits.
Tax hikes, however, will only worsen Illinois’ economic standing at a time when there is an opportunity for systemic reform of the state government.
It’s commendable for these members of the Illinois General Assembly to voice their concerns over the broken budgeting process in Springfield and speak out against their leadership. But words cannot compare to the very concerning numbers facing Illinois taxpayers, like a $10 billion deficit by summer, Illinois recording its 14th straight budget deficit, and the lowest credit ratings and the worst-funded government pension system in the country.
As related by the legislators, the degeneration of politics in Springfield is alarming, yet unsurprising; like a low-intensity conflict of news conferences, press statements and canceled meetings since Governor Pat Quinn (D) was thrown out of office by Illinoisans in favor of Bruce Rauner. The two entrenched sides, Speaker of the Illinois House Michael Madigan (D) and Governor Bruce Rauner (R), are both steadfast in their opposition to the other.
“I think this has been portrayed largely as a battle of wills between the governor and the speaker,” said Sen. Murphy. “And the reason for that is because it largely is,” drawing laughs from the crowd.
Madigan is protective of the political machine he has built while pillaging Illinois taxpayers for the last half-century, so he is willing to play hostage-taker over the budget with the constituency groups he has fostered, from teachers and colleges to government employees and social services organizations. But Rauner is willing to play the long-game, too, and seems quite ready to stake his governorship on reversing decades of cronyism and mismanagement throughout Illinois’ state government.
Taxpayers must be vigilant in holding members of the Illinois General Assembly accountable, especially at this unprecedented time without a state budget and as we approach the new fiscal year. Now is the time that legislators could propose the most dangerous solutions to the state’s financial crises, including hiking the state income tax or imposing a new, devastating income tax on retirement benefits.
If this forum was any indication of what’s currently happening – or not – in Springfield, then Illinois taxpayers should be distressed. There is no consensus developing to solve the budget impasse. The FY2016 gridlock could possibly be prolonged past the November elections and well into the FY2017 budget battle. All sides are at a standoff and there is no exit strategy, so taxpayers must make their voices heard and the politicians in Springfield react.
Jared Labell
Taxpayer Education Foundation

Alton Daily News|Tax On Drivers Postponed

Director of Operations at Taxpayers United of America’s, Jared Labell, was quoted by Alton Daily News about I Ride.

Amid an outpouring of angry reactions about a measure to tax Illinois drivers by the mile, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, says he won’t advance his proposal.
Cullerton took to social media late Friday to make the announcement.
“I filed legislation to start discussion and debate and get feedback on how the state could replace the gas tax. I’ve received a lot of constructive feedback that will help shape future policies. I do not intend to move forward with SB 3267,” Cullerton wrote.
Taxpayers United of America Director of Operations Jared Labell said he understands the frustration from Illinois commuters and that the bill would have been highway robbery.
“I think taxpayers are very motivated right now to push back,” Labell said. “Hopefully, as lawmakers in Springfield fight about the budget impasse, taxpayers can really make an impact now as things are coming to a head.”
Labell said taxpayers are beginning to make their voices heard.
“Sometimes they won’t react to a half-a-billion-dollar property-tax increase, but taxpayers and people in general will see these other little taxes and start to connect the dots and see how one tax increase leads to another,” Labell said.
A similar tax bill proposed by state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, would have raised the gas tax by 30 cents and would have included a vehicle-miles tax. Steans’ bill was postponed April 14.

WQAD|New proposal would tax Illinois drivers per mile

Director of Operations at Taxpayers United of America’s, Jared Labell, was quoted by WQAD about I Ride.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A new proposal could tax Illinois drivers by the mile and mean devices are used to track the distance they travel.
The proposal from state Senate President John Cullerton to pay for fixing Illinois’ roads is aimed at gasoline tax revenue that has declined, the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reports. He says vehicles getting better mileage still wear on roads, and that there needs to be a better way for the state to collect taxes and fund repair work.
Under the plan, drivers could choose one of two ways that a device monitors their mileage, or opt to pay a 1.5-cent-per-mile tax on a base 30,000 miles traveled annually.
Cullerton says Illinois drivers would receive a refund for costs of gasoline taxes.