Pritzker's progressive tax will put Illinois in same boat as New York, Oberweis cautions
State Sen. James D. "Jim" Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) says that Illinois needs to take a close look at what's happening in New York before implementing newly elected Gov. J.B. Pritzker's progressive income tax.
"It's just a perfect example of the risk that Illinois is facing," Oberweis recently told DuPage Policy Journal. "I wish I could get that message across to our Democratic colleagues who seem to just want to focus on spending more money. It's really tough and the market has some force that is exerting itself on Illinois. We need to change the direction in which we are going."
Earlier this week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced income tax revenues in that state had dropped by about $2.3 billion since the new budget plan he introduced in January. Cuomo blamed the new federal tax code and stock market volatility and admitted that spending would have to be curbed.
Cuomo's report appears to be threatening plans to build Amazon's second headquarters, commonly referred to as "HQ2," in Long Island City.
Illinois is approaching the same brink that New York is facing, Oberweis said.
"I think it just emphasizes the severe pressure that Illinois is going to be under, what Gov. Pritzker has been talking about, having a progressive tax in Illinois," he said. "It could lead to some of the same problems that New York is looking at. Illinois already is one of the highest tax states in the nation if you combine income tax with sales tax and real estate taxes. Real estate taxes are particularly crushing in Illinois."
Illinois' high taxes and other problems have already prompted people and businesses to flee the state. While lower-income people often are trapped where they are, those of higher incomes--residents targeted by Pritzker's progressive income tax--often have the assets to leave a bad situation, and they will, Oberweis said.
"I'm afraid higher earners will just accelerate their departure," he said.
Oberweis, has represented the 25th District since he first was elected to the seat in 2012. He soundly defeated Democrat challenger Corinne Pierog during the November midterm elections, taking 54.66 percent of the vote to hold onto his seat for another term.
The State Senate 25th District is located within Cook, Kane, Dupage and Kendall counties.
For Oberweis, owner of Oberweis Dairy in North Aurora, Illinois' worsening fiscal crisis has become personal.
"When I look at expanding my business, I have to look around and ask myself, 'Do I want to expand it in Illinois or do I want to expand it in Indiana or Missouri?'," he said. "That's a tough thing, I've lived my whole life in Illinois, I've been in the same house for the last 40 years. My father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather all lived in the same part of Illinois where I live. So I hate being forced to think about other alternatives. My friends are living over these tax concerns."
The solution Illinois must take up is the same Cuomo one that has admitted will have to happen in New York, Oberweis said.
"It's a very, very difficult situation," he said. "The only way I see to get out of it is to bring spending under control, including Medicare spending. We also need to get some relief on the pension obligations that have built up over the years in Illinois. Neither of those is going to be easy to do."