Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What's the Matter With Illinois?

Chart by WSJ based on Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Wall Street Journal explains why Illinois is not seeing the same economic growth as that of other states in the Great Lakes region:

If the states are laboratories of democracy, then a great comparative policy experiment is taking place in America's Great Lakes region. Democrats in Illinois have been pursuing their blue-state model of higher taxes and union-dominated government. Neighboring states since 2010 have gone for lower taxes and union reform.

The comparison is especially apt because Illinois Democrats are doubling down on their strategy in this election year. Governor Pat Quinn has announced plans to make permanent the "temporary" tax hikes that were supposed to sunset at the end of this year. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan last month floated a 3% surcharge on income over $1 million, only to have it shot down by some in his own caucus. Yet Democrats are still flogging a progressive income tax, which Mr. Quinn all but endorsed last year.

All of which makes it an ideal moment to consider how the Quinn-Madigan policies are working. One way to judge is to compare Illinois with four other Great Lakes states that the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) lumps together for its annual survey of economic performance by the 50 states.

Key points from the WSJ opinion piece:
  • Illinois's 8.7% jobless rate is the country's second highest and has only fallen by a mere 0.7 percentage while Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin saw sharp declines. Only Illinois raised taxes.
  • Illinois recorded the slowest personal income growth in the Great Lakes and one third of of its growth last year was driven by "transfer receipts" (i.e., food stamps, workers' compensation, disability, welfare, Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare, earned income tax credits, unemployment benefits). According to BEA, these payments increased 5.2% in Illinois in 2013, the third most in the U.S., while wages and salaries ticked up only 1%."
  • Illinois saw workers leaving the state while the Michigan and Indiana saw their workforce grow.
  • Illinois lost manufacturing jobs while Michigan, Indiana and Ohio each added them.

Legislation Establishing Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Approved by House

Advancing a key aspect of the heroin legislative package sponsored by Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst), the Illinois House has approved a measure that will allow the establishment of a Pilot Program to create a secure facility with on-site substance abuse treatment in DuPage County, Cook County, and a third location to be determined. The facilities will serve as a “last chance” option where individuals convicted of drug or property crimes would be allowed to serve their sentences in a treatment-intensive environment. Read more about the legislation.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mark Your Calendars, Illinois! Tax Freedom Day is April 28

Do you know how long you have to work this year in order to pay off your combined federal, state and local tax burden before you start earning any money for you and your family? 

This year, Illinois taxpayers have to work from January 1 through April 28 – a whopping 118 days – just to pay off their combined tax burden.

Illinois once again ranks low among the 50 states, coming in at #7 --

Friday, April 11, 2014

Week in Review 4/7/14 through 4/11/14

Illinois Taxes
Key Democrat Tax Hike Proposals Stall in General Assembly.  With time running out for constitutional amendments aimed at changing Illinois income tax laws, two major Democrat-sponsored tax hike proposals failed to advance in Springfield this week.

SJRCA 40 (Harmon), the so-called “fair tax” constitutional amendment, would abolish the Illinois individual income flat tax (current rate: 5.0 percent) and replace it with a graduated rate with higher taxes for most middle-class and upper-middle-class taxpayers and families.

HJRCA 51 (Madigan) would impose an additional 3.0 percent surtax upon upper income earners and small businesses. The surtax and individual income liability levels would be inscribed into the Constitution and would not be adjustable by statute.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Legislation affecting farmers markets is headed to Senate

Legislation sponsored by Representative Mike Tryon that would standardize rules and regulations for people who want to sell fresh fruits and vegetables at Farmers Markets across the state was approved by a unanimous vote in the Illinois House on Tuesday.

“Today in Illinois we have 102 counties and 100 health departments,” said Tryon. “Each department sets its own regulations for farmers markets, and for those vendors who wish to sell their goods in different counties, it is very difficult to ensure compliance.”

House Bill 5657 seeks to amend the Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act by standardizing the regulations and fees associated with Farmers Markets in Illinois. With its unanimous adoption in the House, the bill now moves to the Senate, where Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) will serve as the bill’s Chief Senate Sponsor.  Read more about this legislation.

Gallery: Springfield Visitors April 9, 2014

Constituents visit their capitol nearly everyday whenever possible members take time out of their day to meet and interact with them.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Meet our members: SANDY PIHOS

State Representative Sandra Pihos was elected to the General Assembly in 2002 and is serving her sixth term in office. She has been a resident of Glen Ellyn for 41 years, has taught both elementary and middle school, and worked as a high school guidance counselor. She served on the Glenbard District 87 school board for 10 ½ years ending her tenure as president. In addition, she held the position of vice president of Pihos Enterprises, a restaurant management firm, from 1993-2000.

As a legislator, Sandy serves on a variety of committees, including Elementary and Secondary Education (Republican Spokesperson), Elementary and Secondary Appropriations, Consumer Protection, Accountability & Administrative Review, Small Business Empowerment & Workforce Development, Housing, and Tollway Oversight. Some of the committees she has been appointed to include the Legislative Audit Commission, the Special Education Funding Task Force, and the Workforce Development Board. Much of her legislation has focused on education, social security protection, and consumer protection, identity theft, affordable housing, health awareness, children’s health insurance and environmental issues.  Read more about Rep. Pihos.

News From Rep. Pihos
Current Legislation Sponsored by Rep. Pihos
Rep. Pihos' Committees
Rep. Pihos' District
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