What is going on with Illinois’ unemployment?
Over the past year, Illinois’ employment is up .04% which severely lags the U.S. economy, that grew by 1.4%. Unemployment in Illinois remained at 4.9 % compared to the national average of 4.1%. Surrounding states like Indiana (3.7%), Iowa (2.9%), Missouri (3.4%) and Wisconsin (3.2%) are all better than the national average.
Our workers are leaving the state in droves.
You might think our residents are all going to Florida but look around us. Between 2015 and 2016, Indiana gained over 20,000 people, Wisconsin over 10,000, Iowa 12,000, and Missouri almost 17,000. People are going to where there are jobs. Even worse is the fact that we had nearly 100,000 citizens leave the labor force in 2017.
Here’s what needs to be done:
While there is no quick fix, there are solutions. We must reform our Workers’ Compensation laws that are unfair to employers and drive up the cost of WC insurance. We can reduce the excessive debt and pension liability that are scaring companies away. And, we can lower the high cost of starting and maintaining a business in Illinois.
I will aggressively work to reduce the excessive regulations, enact spending reforms, and focus on paying our bills so businesses will again consider locating here.
What’s wrong with Illinois pensions?
Over the past several decades, career politicians in Springfield have failed to address the underfunding issue which is simply the ever-increasing amount of debt that is piling up. They’ve diverted money to pet projects and their cronies instead of funding our workers’ pension funds, and there appears to be no end in sight.
How bad is it?
Really bad. We have about $68 Billion in pension assets to cover $208 Billion in liabilities. Even raising the income tax by over 30% hasn’t put a dent in the $130 Billion dollar shortfall.
What can be done now?
Fortunately there are a couple of options we can consider. For example, about 20 years ago state university employees were allowed to transition into an alternative 401(k) plan. Since then over 20,000 workers opted in. We should allow all state workers the same opportunity. Another possibility would be to amend the state constitution so we can reform our workers’ pension plans.
There needs to be a call to action and I will work to protect our workers’ pension plans from bankruptcy by enacting true reforms to our pension system.
Are Illinois property taxes too high?
Illinois has the highest median property tax rate in the nation. Ours is 2.67% compared the national rate of 1.31%. New York is 2.53%, and New Jersey is 2.37%. By comparison, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and Indiana have median property tax rates of 1.95%, 1.69%, 1.26%, and 0.88% respectively. So, you decide.
What does this mean?
Property taxes have become a second mortgage for homeowners that can never be paid off or an endless expense for small business owners who are trying to grow every year. Since 1990, residential property taxes have grown over 3 times faster than the median household income. This broken system is making it impossible for families to stay in their homes; forcing them to leave Illinois for more affordable states.
We need to make government bodies less dependent of property taxes. There is a proposal that would cap property taxes at 1 percent unless local voters approve a future tax increase. That is one way to force reform. We must resolve this issue and lower property taxes in order to retain and attract families and businesses.
I will support any initiative that will lower property taxes including legislation to make consolidation and resource sharing across our thousands of local taxing bodies easier.