Past the Breaking Point: Tax Revolts Brewing in Illinois – WP Original
“What we need is to work in moderation, not in the extreme.”
-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan
“Yeah my blood’s so mad feels like coagulating.”
-Barry McGuire, Eve of Destruction
By: Mark Glennon*
They’re sprouting. Tax protest and revolt groups, long predictable in Illinois, are popping up. Articles today in the Northwest Herald and Illinois News Network describe some of them, perhaps the most notable being Illinois Tax Revolution. Others are under discussion or in formation. I’ve heard from them here.
Most are focused on property taxes, as they should be, because rates in many Chicago suburbs have reached levels that can only be described as suicidal and confiscatory. The most widely read article on this site details effective property tax rates in Chicago’s south suburbs, which average over five percent. Dozens of suburbs in other areas are over three or four percent, which we listed in a separate article. Almost all are going up to feed growing pension contributions with no end in sight.
Most Illinois politicians and media remain in denial of that insanity. The press has ignored what’s happened in the south suburbs. But those who pay understand. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to organized tax protesters is they are too late in many cases. Once rates exceed three or four percent, a death spiral ensues. The south suburbs are doomed by that death spiral. A Gallup poll two years ago said over half of Illinoisans would leave if they could. It’s probably worse today.
It’s too early to say what direction these efforts will take or what success they will have, but there’s one central, undeniable reality they, and all of us, must face. Debate what the answers should be, but suck it up and deal with this fact: Our model of government in Illinois is broken. We simply aren’t generating the jobs, revenue and growth we need to keep the promises government has made. Excessive property taxes are the most conspicuous element in that broken system.
Fueling the revolution is ever growing anger over the control of state government by Cook County Democrats, widely despised outside the county, and their subservience to public unions. Committed to that mantra of “moderation” constantly repeated by Speaker Madigan, they remain indifferent to the plain truth that drastic, extreme, radical remedies are long overdue.
And, now, the Illinois Supreme Court has reinforced the perception that it is a rogue court. Yesterday’s ruling striking mapping reform from the November ballot, cast along party lines, will be the last straw for many. It’s legitimacy has cracked.
Don’t underestimate the historical importance and overwhelming size of the challenges at hand in Illinois’ state and local fiscal crises.
*Mark Glennon is founder of WirePoints. Opinions expressed are his own.