You don’t get a raise for doing your job.
You get a raise for doing an exceptional job, and the promise to do even better down the road.
Does this sound like the Illinois General Assembly?
Hidden in the budget rammed through the legislature over a single weekend is a lawmaker pay hike of $1,600. Gov. J.B. Pritzker refused to use his veto pen to strike that provision in signing the budget June 5. The raises will hit lawmaker bank accounts July On the same day, every Illinoisan who visits a gas station will see their bill go up.
The same state lawmakers who gave themselves a raise in a record-spending $40 billion state budget also passed a $45 billion capital plan. To pay for it, they doubled the state gas tax, hiked vehicle registration fees by $50 for most vehicles, hiked the cigarette tax, imposed new taxes on parking and changed the tax structure for online shopping.
The gas tax hike will cost a typical Illinois driver $100 more per year. And the state gas tax will automatically increase with inflation going forward. Illinoisans’ total tax and fee burden on their gas will become the second or first highest in the nation, according to Tax Foundation data.
Meanwhile, at nearly $70,000, Illinois state lawmakers will take home the sixth-highest base salary in the nation, according to a 2018 analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Among the five other states with “full-time lite” legislatures, Illinois lawmakers will be paid the most.
The same day Pritzker signed the budget, he signed new income tax rates into law that would take effect should voters approve his progressive income tax amendment at the ballot box.
Pritzker has dubbed the progressive income tax the “fair tax,” because he promises middle-class tax relief while hiking taxes on the wealthy. The administration claimed in May that the plan would provide $271 in tax relief for a family of four making the median household income of $61,000.
But if a $271 tax cut is “fair,” what does that make a $300 tax hike on the same family?
The average household in cities such as Aurora, Elgin, Joliet and Naperville has two vehicles, according to a Governing analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. That means they will be whacked with $300 in new taxes and fees under Pritzker’s capital bill – with two parents each seeing a $100 gas tax hike and a $50 hike in vehicle registration fees.
Indeed, Daily Herald watchdog reporter Jake Griffin found the tax and fee hikes on driving will wipe out any promised progressive income tax savings for “many Illinoisans.”
Of course, that’s assuming lawmakers keep their promise, and don’t raise those income tax rates down the line.
Springfield politicians talking out of both sides of their mouths on tax “fairness” is one of many reasons they didn’t deserve a raise.
Austin Berg is a Chicago-based writer with the Illinois Policy Institute who wrote this column for The Center Square. Austin can be reached at [email protected]