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Illinois’ Ship of Fools

By Michael Kleen

Over the past decade, Illinois legislators have borrowed and spent our state into the ground, and now they seem determined to tax it into the ground as well. This is no harmless “politics as usual” – their budgetary machinations have very real consequences. Looming fiscal crisis, coupled with an inability to find solutions other than raiding pension funds or raising taxes, is contributing to an overall decline in our quality of life, not to mention crippling the job prospects of the average Illinoisan. Like a ship of fools, our public officials are ignorant of their course and blind to the injury they cause.

While Governor Quinn and the Illinois Legislature wrangle over how to fix their mess, they are facing an exodus of their tax base. Companies and individuals are fleeing to greener pastures, contributing to an overall decline in the state’s political clout. Thanks to slow growth rates compared to states like Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Arizona, Illinois lost a Congressional seat in 2000 and another in 2010. What do Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Arizona have in common? Besides a warmer climate, all have low tax rates. Florida and Texas have no state income tax at all.

Since the Illinois Legislature passed a dramatic personal and corporate income tax increase (not to mention a new Internet sales tax) earlier this year, companies such as Sears, Jimmy John’s, and Caterpillar have all publically threatened to leave Illinois. According to Jim Dugan, Caterpillar’s chief spokesman, the Illinois tax increase will cost the company’s 23,000 employees in the state about $40 million this year. Like many individual taxpayers who have gravitated toward states in the South, Caterpillar recently announced plans to build manufacturing plants in Texas and North Carolina rather than Illinois…

Read the entire column at the Disclosure!