It’s no secret that much of rural Illinois, the vast region of Illinois outside of Chicago and the collar counties, feels forgotten by Chicago democrats running Illinois when it comes to things like state spending priorities.
We see these arguments play out every day at gas stations, coffee shops, and at nearly any gathering of rural residents throughout our state. If you live in rural Illinois, you probably even talked about it more than you’d care to admit this holiday season. However, there is one area of life in which nearly nobody in rural Illinois feels forgotten- taxation and fees. With well over $1.4 billion in new taxes and fees taking effect with the New Year, rural residents are far from immune from the disproportionate effects of these revenue extraction schemes on their small towns, farms and, frankly, their resolve to remain in Illinois.
A new trade-in tax aimed at used vehicles results in double-taxation for many Illinoisans, whether their vehicle was purchased in-state or out-of-state. Hugely increased license plates fees for automobiles and higher motor fuel taxes certainly have a disproportionate effect on areas lesser served by mass transit and where commutes are longer due to employment and medical care availability. Recreation activities enjoyed by many more people in rural areas than urban include boating, fishing and use of ATVs; boat and trailer owners are finding more taxes and fees increasingly hostile to their ability to enjoy the activities afforded them in rural Illinois. With fewer brick-and-mortar businesses in rural Illinois than in the Chicago area, new online sales tax increases ensure rural residents bear additional brunt of the tax burden for their “inconvenience” of shopping online for items unavailable nearby.
The increased taxes on all Illinoisans— rural, suburban and urban— are being spent with very unequal input from stakeholders paying the bill for this excess. This is largely due to gerrymandered legislative maps and the disproportionate power structures they engender. In the New Year, we will see new debates on many new issues. Perhaps it’s long past time that supermajority democrats, capable of passing whatever they want on their own with no republican support, finally pass a Fair Map Amendment and finally address Illinois’ high property taxes. Neither of these two issues contradict any progressive social stances of the Governor and his supermajority party but would give many hardworking Illinoisans some hope to keep up their resolve and stay in Illinois a little while longer. After all, you’ll need them to continue paying those higher taxes and fees democrats presented in their stockings this year.
These taxes and fees are a lot of straws to throw on the camels’ backs all at once, so I’m not surprised to hear so many backs breaking by the actions of this State they once loved. With top in the nation population loss, isn’t it time to try something new in 2020? After all, there is no way to extract further taxes out of the growing liege of Illinois’ expatriates.
State Representative Andrew Chesney