By: Ted Dabrowski
Do a quick scan of the 255 new laws taking effect in Illinois on January 1 and it won’t take you long to realize that Illinois pols have done nothing to fix the state’s broader mess. None of those laws stop the Illinois’ deep fiscal dive and the record flight of its residents.
For sure, a few laws are easy to support, like the doubling of burial benefits for first responders killed in the line of duty. But the majority just take care of special interest groups or add mandates to Illinois’ already inefficient governments. And the stuff that affects everyone – from property tax relief to pension reform to local government consolidation – is nowhere to be seen.
I’m not recommending you take out hours of your last precious days in 2019 to read a bunch of laws. Fortunately, ABC7 compiled a short description of each law so you can give them a skim. I’ve linked them at the end of this piece.
Yeah, there’s the new cannabis law everyone already knows about. Minimum wages are going up to $9.25 from $8.25. And there’s also new licensing requirements for Chinese Herbologists and a “Healthy Pet Month” designation for the month of April.
But pensions? They are mentioned just six times in the ABC7 summary, but not as part of any reform. One law says pension five times, but it’s just a broader bill on unclaimed property within the retirement funds. The sixth time the word pension was mentioned was only as part of the longer word sus(pension).
Property tax relief? Hah. Nothing.
Overall tax relief? The opposite. Expect to pay more as there are lots of new fees, mandates and regulations.
Collective bargaining reforms to lower the cost of government? Expect the public sector unions to have more power over the ordinary Illinoisan. And that means higher costs at the state and local levels.
Becoming more competitive
Illinois politicians continue to categorically reject new laws that structurally change how this state works. Gov. J.B. Pritzker refuses to even consider an amendment to the pension protection clause.
That’s in sharp contrast to what’s been going in Illinois’ neighboring states where for years they’ve passed labor and budget laws to make their states more competitive with the rest of the nation.
They’ve taken on the tough issues – right-to-work-laws, collective bargaining reform and tax cuts – understanding that short-term political pain would result in longer-term gains for their residents.
How’s it working for those states?
Two graphics broadly capture the results. One measures the credit rating of each state – the equivalent of a credit score. Illinois is the fiscal deadbeat of the country, bar none.
In contrast, Iowa, Indiana and Missouri have the best rating possible, AAA. Wisconsin and Michigan have the second-best credit rating. Only Kentucky’s rating is lower, a function of their own pension debacle.
And in the measure that captures it all, Illinois is the nation’s biggest loser. Illinois can’t retain its people.
No other state has lost more people cumulatively since 2010 than Illinois. By comparison, all of the state’s neighbors have grown, including cold-weather states Michigan and Wisconsin.
The above graphic should drive virtually every single decision made by Illinois politicians.
Does a new law attract more people, businesses and investment to Illinois? Or does it repel them?
In putting together the new laws for January 1, they’ve ignored those questions yet again.
Unfortunately, Illinois pols will be at it again in 2020. They’re pushing a multi-billion dollar progressive tax hike – and no reforms – as their panacea for all of Illinois’ woes.
Unless Illinoisans vote to stop more bad decisions, expect even more people to flee as Illinois’ negative trends continue.
Read more about Illinois and its fiscal crises:
- New Laws 2020: Illinois laws that take effect January 1
- Illinois enacting a progressive tax is like Sears attempting a turnaround by hiking prices
- This One Chart From Moody’s Illustrates Chicago’s Fiscal Plight
- Pritzker, don’t blame Wirepoints. Math diminishes your ‘monumental’ claims, not us.
- Moody’s shows Illinois is nation’s extreme outlier when it comes to pension debts
- It’s not just property taxes Illinoisans should be worried about. It’s home values, too.