Illinois

TAXPAYERS SAY NO TO ANY INCREASE IN THE ILLINOIS GASOLINE TAX

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CHICAGO—The president of Illinois’ largest taxpayer organization today condemned the huge proposed increase in the state tax on gasoline put forth by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, calling the proposed increase unconscionable and obscene.

The outgoing mayor of Chicago and the mayors of Park Forest, Hazel Crest, Oswego, Fox River Grove, Joliet, Batavia, Broadview and Ford Heights called for the current 19 cent Illinois state gas tax to be raised to anywhere between an additional 20 cents to 30 cents. In other words these mayors are asking for a 105% to 157% gas tax increase for what has been described as “infrastructure” projects. The possible gas tax increase could be higher than the one passed by the 86th general assembly. The 86th general assembly presided over the great Tax Massacre of ‘89 where the gas tax was raised by 46%.

Mayor Emanuel was quoted as saying, “Our state can’t wait any longer” for the gas tax increase. According to Rahm Emanuel, “Over the last four years, we’ve been stuck in neutral and the states in the surrounding area — Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa just to name a few — have passed transportation bills with gas tax increases.” What Emanuel failed to mention was Illinois already pays higher gas taxes than most of its neighbors. If the 157% gas tax increase is passed, based on Tax Foundation research Illinois could rank in the top five U.S. states for highest gas taxes surpassing all of its neighbors.

“Rahm Emanuel, who presides over the most corrupt city in the country, located in the most corrupt state in the country, has the gall to propose a 20 to 30 cent per gallon increase in the state’s gas tax,” said Jim Tobin, president of Taxpayers United of America (TUA). “The city is technically bankrupt, and the state also is bankrupt, but he expects taxpayers to accept this back-breaking gasoline tax increase because they should trust him to spend the money on transportation projects.”

“80 percent of spending by local governments is for salaries and benefits of employees. To saddle Illinois taxpayers with more taxes is totally unacceptable.”

“At least 19,481 retired government-employee pensioners are receiving $100,000 or more in annual pension payments. That level of payout has increased about 15% over the 2017 pension payments. At this rate of increase, the number of pensions over $100,000 will far exceed 21,000 in 2019.”

“So many billions of dollars of state resources have been poured into these failing state pension funds, to no avail, that there is not very much left for other areas. Passing this harsh, regressive gasoline state tax increase only would encourage state politicians to continue their incompetent management of precious state resources.”

TAXPAYER ALERT!

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Dear Taxpayer,

The Springfield tax-raisers—of both political parties—are planning to hit taxpayers with another tax increase, and this one is a cowardly sneak-attack that you must fight immediately in order to stop it.

As you are reading this, the state’s car rental companies are working with Illinois lawmakers to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a bill that would tax and regulate the promising peer-to-peer car sharing industry. The Chicago Tribune and the Sun Times have already reported on this anti free market bill, but pro bureaucracy lawmakers seem hellbent on pushing it through.

The state’s car rental companies, which are facing competition from startups, are behind this proposed legislation in order to crush competition.

Peer-to-peer car rental companies allow individuals to rent their car out. Currently, there are more than 6,100 car owners in Illinois who rent their vehicles out to others.

Lawmakers want to override Rauner’s veto to Senate Bill 2641, by passing requirements for companies like Turo and their members to provide detailed cost estimates, abide by stricter vehicle recall requirements, and pay an additional 5 percent state tax with the possibility of additional local taxes.

Lobbyists for rental companies said this money goes to infrastructure and that rideshare companies should have to pay the same tax. However, rental companies are exempt from paying sales tax on the vehicles they buy, a break worth an estimated $200 million a year.

The Illinois State Senate took one step closer to eliminating peer-to-peer car sharing in Illinois by overriding a bill vetoed by Governor Rauner. Prodded by Enterprise-Rent-A-Car, the Senate passed a bill that would regulate individual car owners using a company like Turo as a rental car company.

The Senate acted without a single hearing regarding this stealthy tax increase. Now the battle moves to the Illinois House of Representatives.

Please contact your Illinois House Representative and tell him or her to vote NO on Senate Bill 2641. It’s urgent that you call your legislator today. The Springfield office switchboard is 217-782-2000.

Thanks for helping stop this sneaky tax hike!

HOW HOME RULE WAS DEFEATED — AGAIN — IN LEMONT

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Forward: This article describes the firsthand experience of fighting Home Rule, and how TUA helps defeat Home Rule, the most insidious form of government in America. Lemont was one of five victories against home rule on November 6, 2018.

The taxpayer advocate wishes to remain anonymous due to legitimate concern of governmental reprisal.

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Our home rule battle started innocuously enough a couple of months ago, after a meeting on another issue with the mayor and village manager.

As we strolled toward our cars, the mayor casually remarked that truck traffic through Lemont’s downtown and elsewhere could be regulated if only we had home rule.

I know only too well what home rule really means, and it’s not about restricting 18-wheelers.

Five years ago Lemont residents fought the then-mayor’s plan to finance and build a boondoggle sports facility in Lemont’s downtown area by issuing Alternative Revenue bonds. I was part of a small group of about 10 concerned citizens – we dubbed ourselves LUV (Let Us Vote) Lemont – who packed Village Board meetings and challenged trustees and the mayor on the Alternative Revenue bond funding. While doing our research we learned that home rule had enabled Bridgeview, IL, to authorize a new soccer stadium without voter approval. The project did not pay for itself, as promised, and led to financial problems and at least 4 property tax increases.

Lemont did NOT have home rule, so we were still able to demand a say. We collected the required number of voter signatures to force a backdoor referendum so we could vote up or down on the project. When the Village admitted that higher property taxes would back the bonds in case the project didn’t pay for itself, the pressure to “let us vote” increased. A few months later, the Village – perhaps realizing a referendum would fail – threw in the towel and yanked the plans for the sports facility. We didn’t get to vote, but we had won regardless. If the Village had been a home rule community we would have been powerless to stop the project.

When it became clear that home rule would appear on this November’s ballot, I called Taxpayers United of America (TUA). I spoke first with Matthew Schultz, and then with Jim Tobin. They outlined the 6 reasons home rule means “home ruin.”

We used the information to send out emails to our friends and neighbors. Jim’s group sent us a flyer that made the case – and listed the top salaries and pensions in Lemont. TUA sent the flyer to its Lemont area mailing list, and created a Facebook ad. The local tea party, along with activists who had fought the sports facility, helped get the word out via emails and signs (most of which were stolen!).

We also got some unexpected but much welcome assistance from Springfield–based REALTORS in Opposition to Home Rule. The REALTOR group mailed out 3 postcards to all registered voters in Lemont. Each one hammered away at reasons to Vote No: More debt and higher taxes without voter approval, unlimited power in the hands of politicians, voters stripped of their power to say yea or nay, and onerous new fees, rules and regulations. Every argument was true because it’s exactly what has happened everywhere home rule is in force.

We know what home rule did to Bridgeview. We reminded people how we were able to avoid a similar fate in Lemont because we do not have home rule.

And we reiterated that home rule doesn’t begin to alleviate the crippling public pension obligations, high taxes and debt of other municipalities. Home rule is not the answer to the underlying problem of declining revenues and increasing pension costs. Harvey, IL, is the classic example of a town that home rule can’t save.

It seems counterintuitive, but just because the truth is on your side doesn’t mean the fight is any easier.

The Village marketing effort was run by a political action committee bankrolled by the mayor. Voters received a 4-page brochure from “Lemont Citizens for Road & Water Repairs,” AKA the mayor and his allies. The messaging was disingenuous from the start, framing a proposed 1% sales tax as a one-shot measure imposed largely on VISITORS instead of Lemont residents (as though Lemont residents don’t shop at home!). The Village said the tax would raise $1Million to address much-needed bridge and road repairs and water-related capital projects. The truth, of course, was that the declining revenues cited by the Village as justification stem from the same problem every Illinois municipality faces: The state’s out of control and unsustainable government-employee pension system.

To sweeten the deal, the Village pledged to eliminate the residential vehicle stickers (thereby leaving available revenue on the table) and promised that the current Board would not use the newly granted power to raise property taxes or take on additional debt.

The initial brochure was followed by 2 postcard mailings. “How do you want to fund Lemont’s $1 million,” a postcard asked. Listed under the NO column was a threatening list of what-ifs if the referendum failed, including a new referendum for a property tax limitation rate increase or increased debt, increased user fees, and significant and drastic staff reductions and reduced service levels. No mention that Village could, and likely would, push through all of the above with home rule. Or that home rule has not prevented staff and service reductions elsewhere.

The postcard also dangled a nice “wish list” of projects that could be completed “with the additional funding from Home Rule,” including street repairs, 16 water main replacements, a new water storage facility and new deep well, engineering and improvements on the train tracks and a “train quiet zone” designation, a pedestrian/bike bridge over the Sanitary & Ship Canal, construction of a downtown parking lot, I&M Canal restoration and an ADA ramp, tree replacement, alley resurfacing an repair, sidewalk repair, and new traffic signals. Quite a list for $1million…and no mention of the underlying public pension burden that would likely consume most if not all of the new tax and lead to more debt and taxation to pay for the wish list!

The Village made its final pitch in a postcard that promised to maintain police and public works services, provide for needed road and water repairs, and eliminate an increase in property taxes. All we’d have to do is give up our power to have our say and agree to higher taxes.

Home rule failed by 995 votes out of total cast of 6,547. NO votes carried the day 57.6% to 42.40%. There were 445 undervotes…I am not sure why people chose not to vote on the issue. More voting data may tell us what areas the support for and against came from.

Lemont defeated home rule once before, in 1997.  If the General Assembly does not lower the population threshold to automatically give Lemont home rule, I suspect they will not wait another 21 years to try it again.

 

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Taxpayers United Of America: (TUA). is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(4) taxpayer advocacy group. Founded June 27, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois by activist and economist Jim Tobin, TUA works on behalf of taxpayers to reduce local, state, and federal taxes. In the past forty years, TUA has saved taxpayers more than $200 billion n taxes and has become one of the largest taxpayer organizations in America. Check All posts. s.

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