Illinois financial problems are a national joke

Illinois financial problems are a national joke

Illinois financial problems are a national joke

Illinois is ranked as the 49th Worst State in the country when it comes to taxation, according to So the last thing someone should do to address the state’s collapsing economy is to increase taxes. The driving force behind Illinois’ financial troubles are the politically driven pensions for payrollers and patronage workers for politicians. They double and trip dip into pension benefits, get pension hikes simply for working a few extra weeks at a higher title and more. These loopholes need to be closed, but so far no one wants to take on the real challenge in Illinois, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker who is instead increasing taxes

By Ray Hanania

We all know that Illinois has a massive financial problem driven by the high pensions that government, politicians and political administrators who run our education system (if you can all it that at all) have paid to their “patronage workers.”

So far, the ONLY answer that politicians in Illinois have is to raise taxes. That is what newly elected Gov. J.B. Pritzker is planning to do. He’s going to lower the income tax for people making $100,000 or less, and keep the 4.95 income tax which was increased already in 2017 from 3.75 percent. For people making more than $250,000 a year, he’s going to dramatically increase the tax rate to 7.95 percent, the equivalent of the state’s current business income tax.

I am going to bet all of my Middle Class income that this tax hike won’t help one bit because the pension system continues to add political loyalists to the growing pension debt. And I will bet that in four years, our pension problems will be just as bad and the state will remain one of the worst when it comes to taxes in the nation.

Here are a few things to consider.



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You have to look at the state geographically and politically. If you live in Chicago, your income averages are low “per capita voter” — poorer voters. What I mean by that is that Pritzker’s voter base would pay the lowest income taxes, while people living in the rest of the state and in the suburbs would pay the highest rates.

That’s why the Chicago Sun-Times is cheering the tax hike and the Chicago Tribune is not. For Pritzker, downstate is meaningless basically and the value of suburbanites is low.

It doesn’t matter through which form the politicians take your money in taxes, be it the state income tax, the gasoline tax, the sales tax, or other taxes. It still amounts to a tax. That means that by increasing the income tax, Pritzker is only compounding Illinois’ high taxation problems.

WalletHub, an online credit rating system, recently did a detailed analysis of how each state taxes its residents. Illinois ranks as the 49th Worst state behind New York, and ahead of Hawaii, Washington, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Iowa, and Kansas.

The Tax Foundation puts it even more painfully for us poor dumb taxpayers in Illinois: Only 41 of the 50 states tax income. Seven states have no income tax, and two only tax dividend and interest taxes.

What are the 10 Best States with the lowest taxes? According to WalletHub they are: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, Nevada, Florida, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Utah, Tennessee, and Colorado.

What needs to be done? Something no politician wants to do, especially when it impacts their voters. We need to curb the outrageous pensions. We need to stop allowing employees and politicians from double and triple dipping on pension benefits. We need to close the loopholes that allow pension amounts to dramatically increase simply by changing jobs, titles, and during short periods of time. Pritzker needs to address the “Pension Problem” by addressing the “Pensions,” not by addressing “taxes.”

But no politician, not even Pritzker, would miss the opportunity to make your “foes” (the people most likely to vote for someone else) to pay for the problems of your followers (the people most likely to vote for you).

Pritzker’s problem is reflected in his colleague, Toni Preckwinkle, who days after getting re-elected as Cook County Board President making all kinds of promises, announced her candidacy for Chicago mayor.

Preckwinkle has never missed the opportunity to embrace a tax that didn’t hurt her base, but that hurts the base of her foes. The soda tax weighed heaviest on suburban voters, as did the sales tax hike that she promised to oppose before being elected, but quickly hiked after being elected.

The bottom line is this. Illinois residents are paying the highest taxes in the country. Anyone who suggests raising taxes to off-set their financial problems, like the Illinois pension problems, is clearly playing politics rather than addressing a serious taxation concern.

What Illinois needs is to lower our taxes, reign in outrageous pension practices, and make government more productive and efficient for the money that we now pay.

(Originally published in the Southwest News newspaper group March 3, 2019.)


Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Click Here to LISTEN to Hanania's live radio show on 2nd Friday every month 7 AM CST. Click here to listen to Ray's Podcasts. 

His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at

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