IC Exclusive: Illinois Needs Reform for Recovery

By: State Senator Kyle McCarter


Last fall, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU-Carbondale surveyed 1,000 Illinoisans about state government issues. 84% of registered voters told them Illinois was heading in the wrong direction. The poll, released on Oct. 10, 2016 found that taxes (27%) were the single biggest reason for leaving.

That level of dissatisfaction is not a surprise when you see what’s going on under the State Capitol Dome. The leadership in the Senate is pushing a “Grand Bargain” budget deal that is only “grand” in its demand for more taxpayer dollars. It’s certainly no “bargain.”

It calls for billions of dollars in higher taxes on income for individuals and corporations and new sales taxes on services. Working families and employers will be hit with tax rates back up to the level they were the last time income taxes were raised. That’ll cost you and I about two weeks of pay each year that the new higher tax rate is in place. In addition to the higher income taxes are dozens of new taxes on common everyday services we purchase. The Grand Bargain calls for sales taxes on cable and satellite TV, car repairs, dry cleaning, tickets to sporting events, club memberships, landscaping and many more services, too many to list without running out of space.

The last time we had a major income tax hike, 200,000 people fled Illinois to other states and Illinois continued to hemorrhage jobs, especially good-paying manufacturing jobs. While other states made adjustments to improve their business/jobs climate, following the 2008/2009 recession, Illinois kept it “business-as-usual.”

There is amazing creativity in Springfield when it comes to taking money out of people’s pockets, but there appears to be no creativity when it comes to reducing government spending and fiscal responsibility. Shrinking the size of government means more Liberty for the people. Unfortunately, it appears some people haven’t learned from past mistakes and instead are once again taking the path of penalizing the taxpayers.

I’ve heard from many people who are upset about what’s happening in Springfield. Here are just a few of the comments:


  • “Our company employs over 30 people…Our disgust with this state, the excess of Workers’ Comp and tax costs has reached a boiling point. With the introduction of the Grand Bargain…we had a vote of our board members…and made a unanimous decision to take the costly step of moving our entire business to Indiana.”
  • “Since I’m an owner of a 20-employee business and it looks like Illinois is not going to help me, I’m moving 12 miles west across the river. Just sad.”
  • My son-in-law and I own and operate a landscaping business in Fairview Heights. We are struggling with Workers’ Compensation insurance premiums. We have an excellent reputation…But, the burden is being placed on us by the State of Illinois. This burden is almost too much to bear, so much so that we are discouraged from growing the business and hiring more employees.”


While none of the tax increases included in the Grand Bargain have passed, just the talk of new and higher taxes is driving businesses out of state. It’s a signal that Illinois government just doesn’t get it. There’s no respect for those who are working hard and paying the taxes in this state.

There are options to the raise-taxes-or-the-sky-will-fall attitude at the Capitol that surrounds the Grand Bargain budget deal, but establishment politicians don’t want to consider alternatives.

Since 2011, I have offered ideas to balance the state budget, pay off billions of dollars in old bills, eliminate budget debt and address the public pension debt bomb Illinois is leaving to our children and grandchildren. None of these plans includes taking money from the pockets of Illinois taxpayers, rather they would ensure taxpayers keep more of their money. Unfortunately, these ideas were rejected because they required smaller government and less power for Springfield. Smaller government equals greater freedom for the people. Illinois government cannot demand a level of government the people cannot afford. Good things can come out of smaller government. Churches can do more and private charities can do more.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who successfully shrank state government and championed fiscal responsibility once said, “You will be amazed how much government people can live without, once it’s gone.”Changing the budget process to make taxpayers the priority and get Illinois’ fiscal house in order is just one step of reform state government needs and Illinoisans deserve. As the comments above indicate, there are burdensome regulations – like Workers’ Compensation – that hamstring employers, limit business growth and squash job creation.

Illinois has the highest Workers’ Comp rates in the Midwest. We are losing employers, especially manufacturers, to other states where they can save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. Our current Workers’ Compensation System lacks one key component that could make a positive difference. It’s called “causation.” Adding a causation standard to the System would ensure employers are treated fairly and injured workers would receive the medical care they need to quickly to return to work. Causation is defined as the workplace being the majority cause of the injury or illness. Such a standard appears logical, but under current Illinois law an employer who is found to be only 25% responsible for an injury or illness, would still have to pay for 100% of the claim.

Why does Illinois government stubbornly refuse to address the fundamental causes of its economic decline? Why would we repeat the mistakes of the past and run people out of this state? Let’s demand Illinois’ leaders move us in the right direction. Let’s demand this government live within its means, just like you and I have to in our families and businesses. Let’s remind Republicans who claim to be against big government that the solution to this problem is smaller government instead of higher taxes.

I urge you to contact your Representatives and Senators. Ask them to answer these questions and respond to our demands. Tell them to vote no on the Grand Bargain’s new and higher taxes. Tell them, #HandsOFFMyMoney!


Plenty of Republican Lt. Governor choices exist for 2014

 In 2010, the Illinois legislature enacted a new law that now mandates gubernatorial candidates to pick their own running mate. Before 2010, candidates that wanted the Lieutenant Governor position would run in a primary and the top vote getter would be added to the top vote getter for the primary for governor. In 2010, that left the Republicans with a Bill Brady/Jason Plummer ticket and the Democrats with a Pat Quinn/Scott Lee Cohen. Democrat Scott Lee Cohen later dropped out of the race and decided to run for governor as an Independent. Because of the Cohen mess Illinois changed the law, which will now allow the candidates to decide instead of the voters.

There are plenty of Republicans lining up to be a good choice for Lt. Governor. Below are a few we decided to highlight, in no particular order.

Erika Harold– Erika is from Champaign and is a graduate of Harvard University’s Law School. She is well known for being Miss America in 2003, but she does have a share of political experience as well. She was the Youth Director during the 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary campaign of Patrick O’Malley. In 2004, she served as a delegate at the Republican National Convention and in 2012 she even threw her name in the hat during the selection process of former-Congressman Tim Johnson’s seat.

Matt Murphy– Murphy is State Senator from the 27th district (Palatine). He lost a very close race to Jason Plummer for Lt. Governor last time in 2010 and could be right back in the mix this time. His current term expires in 2014 because of redistricting rules, so if he decides to run for a statewide office he may not have the state senate on which to fall back. Also, he could be a candidate for governor or another statewide office yet still.

Jason Plummer– Another strong name from Southern Illinois is Jason Plummer. He was the 2010 nominee for Lt. Governor and the 2012 Republican nominee in the 12th Congressional District. A lot of questions remain though. Will Jason run for Congress again? Will he have a gubernatorial campaign of his own? Or will he choose to take an election cycle off? Time will tell.

Dan Duffy– Duffy is the State Senator from the 26th District (sections of Lake, McHenry, and Cook counties) and would be a strong choice from the suburbs. Rumors have Duffy considering a bid for another statewide office. An advantage that Duffy has is that he is not up for re-election for his State Senate seat until 2016. 

Demetra DeMonte– She is currently the Republican National Committee’s secretary is from Pekin, IL and has served in that role since January of 2011. DeMonte would bring the spotlight of the national party to the race, which could help her potential running mate significantly.

Steve Kim– Steve was the 2010 Republican candidate for Attorney General. Steve, who has a legal background and an impressive job resume, travels the world often on business and some wonder if he has time to run for Lt. Governor. He is young and smart and might be a good choice for a downstate candidate like Dan Rutherford.

Kyle McCarter– McCarter is the current State Senator from the 54th District (Vandalia). He, like Matt Murphy, has a term that will come to a close at the end of 2014. If he decides to run statewide he may not have a state senate seat to return to. McCarter ran against Christine Radogno for Senate Minority Leader this year but lost. He is a successful small business owner and has been a good conservative voice and has a bright future within the party. He is a good pick if a candidate is looking for someone from Southern Illinois.

Sam McCann– McCann is the State Senator from the 50th District (Jacksonville). McCann’s term doesn’t end until 2016 so he has the senate as a fallback in case a statewide bid is unsuccessful. McCann, a small business owner, is another good Southern Illinois option for the candidates. Some rumors have him running for a different statewide office but only time will tell.

Patrick Hughes-Here is a wild card pick. Mr. Hughes ran for Senate in 2010 against Mark Kirk in the GOP primary. He struggled to gain traction but he did build some relationships along the way. One potential candidate that might look his way could be Dan Proft, as they have been seen at events together. Hughes could also give it another go for Senate in 2014.

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Even if Concealed Carry passes legislature, a Quinn veto awaits

SPRINGFIELD — Gun rights supporters think they have momentum on their side this year to allow Illinoisans to carry concealed weapons.
Opponents, however, say not enough has changed in the ongoing stalemate to signal any significant changes on the horizon.
That doesn’t mean the battle over gun rights isn’t going to heat up in the coming days.
Today, a House panel stocked with a number of downstate gun rights backers is expected to once again approve legislation that would make Illinois the 49th state to allow citizens with special training to carry guns in public.
On Thursday, thousands of gun activists are scheduled to descend on the Statehouse for an annual rally organized by the Illinois State Rifle Association.
Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, said a combination of legal and political changes in the past year have pushed concealed carry legislation to the forefront.
“I’ve never had the groundswell or the grassroots effort that this bill is getting and attention that it’s getting right now,” Phelps said.
Opponents say there is still scant support among Chicago-area lawmakers for allowing concealed carry — meaning the issue may remain unresolved for at least another year.
Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, says downstate lawmakers should spend some time in Chicago to see the differences between a congested metropolitan area and a more rural downstate area.
“It’s a different atmosphere that we live in. People live in fear constantly about guns. We do not want to start the wild, wild West up by us,” Link said.
Despite that stance, gun rights supporters were energized by last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that tossed out Chicago’s controversial ban on handguns. In addition, the 2010 election saw gubernatorial candidate Republican Bill Brady winning throughout much of downstate.
Wisconsin — Illinois’ lone counterpart in banning concealed carry — also is considering legalizing the carrying of weapons in public.
“If Wisconsin passes concealed carry, Illinois will be the only state that does not allow any concealed carry permit process whatsoever. We’ll be the last state,” Phelps said.
After holding their noses and voting for an income tax hike in January, many downstate lawmakers who support concealed carry say they want something in return from Democrats and Gov. Pat Quinn.
Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, said downstate lawmakers have asked Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, to call the measure for a vote.
“I think there is enough broad-based support to get the bill to the floor,” Jacobs said. “The people of this state deserve to have the rights of what people in almost every other state have.”
Downstate Republican lawmakers also say there is momentum this year for a vote.
“I think more and more people think there is an opportunity for concealed carry to be voted on this year,” said Sen. John Jones, R-Mount Vernon.
That message will be repeated throughout the Capitol on Thursday when gun owners rally in Springfield. Buses are departing from the Quad-Cities, Marion, Mount Vernon, Chenoa, Chester, Bloomington-Normal, Chicago and Danville.
Among the bills they will be talking about is Senate Bill 82, which is being sponsored by Republicans and Democrats, including Sens. Gary Forby, D-Benton; Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon; Jones; Shane Cultra, R-Onarga; and Dale Righter, R-Mattoon.
Even if a concealed carry bill were to somehow make it through the Democrat-controlled legislature, Quinn remains a major obstacle.
“Our big problem is that Governor Quinn has repeatedly said he would veto it,” Jones said.
“The governor is fond of saying the will of the people should be the law of the land,” Jacobs said. “He should abide by that.”
Link said both sides of the fight need to just agree to disagree.
“I have never had an objection to anyone having a legitimate gun,” Link said. “But, when we see someone with a gun in my area, we know they’re not duck hunting.”

By: Kurt Erickson
Source: QC Times

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