By Annabelle Knef
Illinois State Rep. Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) and State Sen. Jason Plummer (R-Vandalia) co-hosted a town hall meeting on Wednesday, April 25 and discussed issues facing the state such as the proposed graduated income tax and minimum wage increase.
Meier was blunt in his assessment on how things are going in the state.
“Illinois is a mess,” Meier said at the town hall held at the Katy Cavins Community Center. “It’s not easy living in Illinois.”
Plummer said that bad policy making has put the state in a “really tough spot.”
“We represent you all and we have to make sure we are taking your message and values and beliefs to Springfield,” Plummer said.
“We are in a really tough spot, not because of a lack of resources, bad workforce or because a bad geographic location — we have great resources, great people, great opportunities. We are in this position we are right now because of bad public policy.”
Meier said that legislators, on the other side of the aisley, have proposed an additional $12.2 billion in new spending.
“They say it’s going to save the state of Illinois but if we ever get to the graduated income tax, it is going to be so they can raise taxes on whatever level of income you are,” Meier said. “Once they get this through with (a Democratic) super majority, they will be able to tax us on all kinds of incomes.”
Meier said Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker is falsely framing the graduated income tax as a “fair tax,” something that a super majority of Democratic legislators might be able to pass.
But Plummer pointed out that the Illinois state constitution dictates that citizens be taxed on a flat rate – not a graduated rate.
“No matter what your income is, you pay the same rate — not the same amount, but the same rate,” he said.
Plummer criticized the billions of additional spending, as proposed by Democrat legislators.
“My calculator doesn’t work in a way where we can borrow more, spend more and kick our liabilities to the future,” he said.
While the current Illinois income tax rate is 4.95 percent, the proposed graduated income tax “will be a massive tax hike on all families and all small businesses,” Plummer said.
He said Illinois residents will hear propaganda from the Governor about how the income tax hike is considered a “fair tax” for the next couple of years.
“You have to be an educated group with facts so you can talk to people about what this is going to do to downstate Illinois and to small businesses and families,” he said. “It will be a significant tax increase.”
Meier recognized that taxes in Illinois are responsible for pushing residents to migrate out of state.
“The first people to leave after this new tax goes in are going to be the people paying the largest amount of taxes already,” Meier said. “So we are going to lose revenue sources.”
Meier and Plummer also addressed the Illinois minimum wage increase to $15, which is an 82 percent increase from the current minimum wage rate.
Plummer said that while small businesses will surely feel consequences to the minimum wage increase, social service providers, non-profits, hospitals and educational institutions will also be severely affected.
“This puts them out of business,” he said. “Unless they can figure out how to get more funding from the state, they have to close their doors.”
“Numbers show this will probably cost 100,000 jobs.”
Plummer said the budget Pritzker has passed “is not balanced.”
“There are a bunch of charades to make it look like it’s balanced,” he said. “The budget has to balance based on existing revenue. This budget isn’t balanced but even if it were, it’s balanced on a bunch of hopes and prayers about legislation that may or may not happen, regulations that may or may not go into effect.”