All working citizens in all 50 states have to pay federal income tax, not counting those who lie or cheat. Each household pays about $17,000 on average, more or less depending on how much they make, obviously. Many people feel this tax burden every time they get their paycheck, but that is where the similarities end. Each state is different in how they extract money from their residents, regarding sales tax, property tax, gasoline tax, state and local taxes, utility taxes, and a host of other taxes, fees, fines, and other crafty methods. Every state needs some revenue to operate, but some states tax higher than others, sometimes because of past corruption or mismanagement, but mainly because of gross, excessive spending, year after year. Illinois is one of those states.
Well, a new study came out in April, naming Illinois as "the worst place in America to be a taxpayer", coming in at the bottom at 51. That's right... 51! That was not a typo, because Illinois even beat out the District of Columbia. Illinois taxpayers are paying nearly $8,000, on average, in state and local taxes. That is 37% above the national average. Wisconsin did not fare much better, coming in at 49. The study also showed that Illinois' property owners are paying the 2nd-highest amount in property taxes in the nation.
Governor Rauner, knowing - like most taxpayers - that you can't keep spending more than you make, is pushing for changes in the troubled pension system, and is looking to drastically cut spending in other areas. The Illinois Democrats are opposing any major spending cuts, and are in favor of more taxes instead. More taxes?! Are they crazy! Hey, I have a new radical idea... work together and reduce the spending!!
The Illinois House voted overwhelmingly to ban red-light cameras in Illinois, and now the bill goes to the Illinois Senate. Rep. David McSweeney argued that the cameras are unfairly used and are just a way to make more money, saying that there's "growing evidence that red-light cameras actually do more harm than good" and added, "This is not about safety, it's about revenue!" Cities that will be affected by this include Libertyville and Fox River Grove, but not Waukegan. Waukegan happens to be a "home rule" city because of its size, and can decide whether to comply or not. If the Waukegan residents want the cameras gone, it doesn't ultimately matter. Their only recourse is the voting booth. Being a home rule community is good most of the time, but not all. It really depends on whether a city has honorable leaders in position. No Illinois community has revoked their home rule status in over 20 years, partly because they don't want the tail (Chicago) wagging the dog (the rest of us in Illinois).
Many local residents, concerned about the recent shooting of Justus Howell, attended the Zion City Council Meeting on April 21. The meeting was amazingly civil, and everyone in attendance remained calm and respectful, even though the room was overflowing. Incoming commissioner Mike McDowell said, "We (speaking for many there) believe that all lives matter and are sacred to God. This includes both the families of those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, and the families of those sworn to uphold the law." Shantal Taylor even congratulated soon-to-be mayor Al Hill and offered her help. Let's all hope for a more peaceful community.