Taking Control to Get Back in the Black
With Illinois being one of the highest taxed states and also being the one of the worst in terms of budget deficit, the state needs to come up with better ideas to raise money to decrease the deficit. Raising revenue and reforming our current pension system would need to be a priority in order for it to be worthwhile living here.
Illinois, Chicago in specific, is probably one of the best places to live with the city’s culture, music venues, museums, and the great sports teams that we have. That doesn’t necessarily make it the most affordable places to live due to high taxes, pension problems, and a lot of programs that are very underfunded. The state and counties have tried to come up with a lot of ways to raise money to pay for all of those problems, but it doesn’t seem to be making a dent in the deficit that we have, all 300+ billion of it. (Manno)
When asked why he hasn’t purchased a home in the city, accountant for one of the largest real estate firms in the world, Dan Carbray states that “many of the other regions I've looked into moving to are far cheaper than Chicago. The property taxes, rental prices and overall cost of living are all less. The average salary is relatively even, though. This means that if I moved to another area I would have much more disposable income”. Having lived in Arizona for a couple of years, I noticed that it was considerably cheaper to live there as rent was very inexpensive as well as cost of living in general. If you do happen to look on one of the many real estate websites out there, you can view home prices and taxes comparable to that in your neighborhood. A 1 million dollar home in the heart of Scottsdale has roughly the same amount of property taxes as that of a 200,000 home in Oak Forest. Somehow Illinois needs to come up with a solution to make it cheaper to live in the state instead of driving people out.
Let’s talk about why we are in this mess in the first place. Most of the debt that the state has currently has been accumulated over just the past 20 years or so. Once Rod Blagojevich took office though, is when even more debt piled on. Blagojevich had an agenda of expanding programs for all the people that we care for the most; children and seniors. It’s not that they were not great ideas, the problem was trying to fund these programs. But between Blagojevich and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, there was certain conflicts between the two. Blagojevich would veto any tax increase, while Madigan blocked any revenue initiatives proposed by the governor. The idea of not raising taxes to try and fund these programs does not make any sense, considering any high school kid that has some sort of idea of economics should know that you need to raise revenue in order to provide essentially free services to the needy.
Another major problem that Illinois always seems to have is the inability to pay for its underfunded pension problem. As of 2011, the five retirement systems in Illinois had a total of about $85 billion in unfunded liability. (Insert) Teachers Retirement System (TRS), State University Retirement System (SURS), State Employees Retirement System (SERS), General Assembly Retirement System (GARS) and Judicial Retirement System (JRS) are the five systems that the state is responsible for funding. Most of the debt is in the three largest of the funds, which are TRS, SURS, and SERS, as they account for about 63 billion dollars worth of debt (Boyd). It’s not that I don’t believe that teachers and state workers aren’t an essential part of our community and then some, but there has to be something done to fix the pension problem, which we’ll get into later. It just angers me when I worked at a golf course, making friendly conversation with a retired state teacher and mention how expensive our course was. It didn’t bother him because he would come at least 3