Op-Ed by Evelyn Sanguinetti, Lieutenant Governor: Illinois Taxpayers are Struggling to Keep their Heads Above Water

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An op-ed by Evelyn Sanguinetti, Lieutenant Governor of Illinois:

A study released by Wallethub earlier this year ranked Illinois 51st – dead last – in overall tax burden. We ask our residents to pay more in taxes than any other state. It’s no wonder there is an exodus of both people and businesses from our state.

The decades-long “tax and spend” mentality of the General Assembly under Mike Madigan has disrespected hardworking taxpayers in Illinois and hamstrung our ability to grow a healthy economy. Accountability for the people has taken a backseat to catering to insider interests.

We are in the midst of one of the most important elections of our lifetime. In this gubernatorial race, taxes are a primary focus. Both candidates, my running mate Governor Bruce Rauner and our opponent JB Pritzker, have made their position on taxes a central theme in their campaigns, and the contrast is stark.

Governor Rauner wants tax relief. At the top of his agenda for his second term is rolling back the 32 percent income tax hike that was passed over his veto last summer. In addition to income taxes, he also knows Illinoisans need property tax relief. He has proposed a property tax freeze and aims to empower local governments to find ways to control their costs and reduce taxes for their residents.

With four more years, he will continue to save taxpayers money through cost saving solutions like government consolidation, the negotiation of fairer government contracts, and cuts to wasteful spending. He wants hardworking Illinoisans to decide for themselves what to do with their hard-earned money. He wants to make Illinois a more attractive place to build a business and raise a family.

JB Pritzker sees the fiscal turmoil of our state and has concluded that the answer is to raise taxes. Instead of getting government spending under control through commonsense reforms as Governor Rauner has proposed, he wants to take more money from the hardworking people of our state through a graduated tax hike. He insists that this tax plan will only raise taxes on the super wealthy, but has been reluctant to provide any details.

If Pritzker has some newfound way to make the math work, then he needs to present that information to the people of Illinois. Right now, the only proposal for a graduated income tax pending in the legislature raises taxes on incomes greater than $17,300. My question to Mr. Pritzker is this: when did $17,300 become wealthy?

Pritzker seems to think Illinois’ problems can be solved when people start “paying their fair share.” This is quite ironic coming from an inherited billionaire who has used his wealth and influence to avoid paying his own taxes. It is blatantly hypocritical for him to campaign for tax hikes while a big chunk of his fortune is hidden in the Bahamas avoiding taxes. It is more than a little paradoxical for him to want others to pay more when he’s ripped toilets out of his mansion to dodge paying what he owes. How can we trust him to look out for the taxpayers?

There are many reasonable Democrats who recognize the people of Illinois are overtaxed and realize that making Illinois competitive again means moving out of dead last in the country in tax burden. Pritzker is not one of them.

What Illinois needs is for reform-minded Republicans and Democrats to find common ground on how we can drive our tax burden down. Governor Rauner and I are committed to working with lawmakers from both parties to give hardworking Illinoisans the tax relief they deserve.

Evelyn Sanguinetti, Lieutenant Governor of Illinois


Jennifer Maine