Mike Strick believes that change has to come for Illinois.
While Illinois has temporarily avoided its budget crisis in the short term, many are questioning the practicality of the stopgap budget recently passed by the house.
Some has asserted that the stopgap is a Band-Aid and will lead to a massive tax hike. Michael Strick is one such dissenting voice.
He said he believes that the residents of Illinois can longer bear the burden of high taxes.
“I envision personal income tax going up another thousand dollars per family,” Strick told the Dupage Policy Journal. “This is something we just can’t do anymore. People are fed up with paying the high taxes in Illinois; paying for all these crazy pension and golden parachute deals that are given to all these people in power. There is going to be swelling in this cycle of people tired of the status quo of all these politicians taking care of their friends, family, and nepotism. It’s got to change.”
Strick pointed to Illinois’ Auditor General Frank Mautino as an example the alleged rampant nepotism seen in Springfield.
“A good example of that is the Frank Mautino situation,” he said. “He was [House Speaker] Michael Madigan’s right hand man for 21 years and, low and behold, he gets a job which pays $152,000 a year for the next 10 years. Something has got to change.”
The change may be coming, at least for Mautino. The auditor is facing a resolution from Republican lawmakers to remove him from office. Strick said he supports that resolution.
“I do support the resolution,” he said. “There shouldn’t be that type of corruption going. That’s where everything cycles around to term limits. If you have term limits, you will have reduced corruption. When one hand washes the other…what they’re doing is they are helping people that have helped them stay in power. It’s time for a change. For this guy [Mautino] to spend $200,000 on a vehicle for cash and repairs, he could be driving in a Lamborghini.”
Strick said he believes that the corruption and mismanagement has affected Illinois’ spending habits. A recent piece suggested that the state is not in danger of losing its revenue. It’s in danger of over-spending. Illinois has a spending problem and Strick agreed.
“Illinois has the most units of governments in the nation and each one of those small groups of government entities, whether it is a sanitary department all the way to the Secretary of State…are being implicated," he said. "If we can reduce the size of all these different facets of government, even by 10 percent, I think it would be a big saving to the citizens of Illinois.”
The small business owner, running for House District 84, said that reducing government services by 10 percent and freezing property taxes on Illinois residents will help the state immensely. He asserted that spending needs a reduction instead of inflation.
Strick compared it to his time working in sales and the budget he was given by his employer.
“When you are in sales, people are given a budget," he said. "If they don’t use that budget that year, you know what happens to that money? They lose it. If they have the money, they want to spend it. If they don’t spend it, they lose it. So why don’t we, as common sense people in Illinois, look at that problem.”
Strick said that if a sector isn’t spending its entire budget the current fiscal year, then reduce it for the next year according to its spending. The leftover funds can then be allocated for other programs in need.
“That’s where we need to go,” Strick said. “We need to be fiscally responsible to the residents of the state of Illinois because we are all tapped out. We are just tapped out. We’re spending money that we just don’t have.”
He shared some of his concerns as a small business owner and reflected on the problem facing corporations wanting to do business in this state.
“Being a small business owner, coming up with $18,000 for my property taxes…that’s a lot of profit that I could use to buy new equipment or hire another guy,” Strick said. “Me, I’m just a small business owner. What about the large corporations here in Illinois? What kind of problems are they having coming up with these types of funds? It’s almost to a breaking point. And that’s why so many people are leaving Illinois.”
These people are what Strick termed high net worth individuals: prime working age adults. Illinois are losing those adults by hundreds of thousand in the past decade. This loss wasn’t attributed to mortality but to migration. Strick said he envisions a sad future for the state if it continues to lose these valuable individuals.
“Once we start losing some of these high net worth individuals, it’s going to trickle down onto the people that are left,” he said. “Eventually, it’s going to be bad news for Illinois.”
Another bad piece of news for the state is the ridiculous pension system the state, Strick asserted. He claimed that taxpayers have already paid too much to support the retirement of the few.
“When Illinois residents have already paid for those pensions and the poor people of Chicago are going to have to pay again for those pensions due to the inefficiencies of the Chicago government,” Strick said. “People are upset out here in the suburbs when they hear that more and more of their tax dollars are going to Chicago to pay for the ridiculous pensions that they have there.”
He suggested a transition from pensions to a 401k system.
“I was telling a firefighter that there needs to be a drop dead date, like 2025 or 2030, when, after that date, we should be going into to a 401k style system where they pay into their own retirement instead of the residents of Illinois picking up 100 percent of their retirement funds,” Strick said. “It’s just unsustainable. It needs to change.”
People are clamoring for change, Strick concluded. They are tired of the status quo, of the Band-Aids, and of the stagnation.
“People are tired of the 41 years of Mike Madigan in office,” Strick said. “People are tired of the people that keep enabling him to be in that position. It’s not all him. It’s the people that elect him to that position. It’s to the point where people want to see term limits and reduce government.”
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