Two Cents Worth – Suggestions for the state government

Two Cents Column

The other week I addressed some of the things I’d like to see our congressman and president address in the coming months. This time, I’d like to tackle some state issues, and, man, does Illinois have some issues!

First things first, the obvious thing everyone would like to see is Governor Bruce Rauner and Speaker Michael Madigan come together enough that the state can have its first budget since Rauner took office. Given that some very perilous financial times will be looming very soon, both sides need to figure out what they can live with so the people don’t experience any more disfunction than they already are.

However, there are other things that need addressing. I read recently that there was a proposal to limit the number of times an elected official can be selected to a leadership position within their chamber of the General Assembly. I believe it was ten years of service. Now that’s cute and all, but Madigan isn’t going to support that idea. People in power never voluntarily neuter themselves. Unfortunately, as much as I’d love the idea, I don’t see it as likely.

Honestly, the state needs to consider reforming some overly complicated and burdensome laws, specifically tax laws. Property taxes are a nightmare to figure out and most people don’t even try. They just pay what they’re charged and complain about how they’re so high. Appealing seemingly takes at least a masters degree in accounting or tax law. I’m a big believer in the flat tax, where essentially everyone just pays a higher sales tax and we eliminate all other forms of taxation. This way it takes money that is currently outside of the tax system and brings it in. It’s easy to manage and no one will have to worry about any forms to fill out in the spring. So while it may be as unlikely as Madigan agreeing to cha-cha his way into retirement, I’d be thrilled to at least see a representative or senator introduce flat tax legislation so the ball could (slowly) start rolling.

The big elephant in the room that can’t be ignored is the state’s massive pension obligation and the debt years of kicking the can down the road has created. Very hard decisions will have to be made soon and I’m beyond happy that I’m not one of the people tasked with making those decisions. While it may be unpopular, I see it as a very real possibility that Madigan will push for legislation to shift teacher pension obligation onto the school districts, resulting in a huge budget crisis for our local schools. So I’d hope the administrators are thinking about this because its not outside the realm of possibility.

I know this is not as specific as my federally related rant, but when looking at the mess the state is in, where do you even begin?