On Nov. 3, voters in Illinois resoundingly rejected the progressive income tax amendment on the ballot despite the massive public relations effort from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who spent tens of millions of dollars telling everyone that only the rich would see a tax increase.
Voters were told to just trust the same politicians who have bankrupted our state with even more taxing authority. In the end, voters decided that the career politicians wrecking our state weren’t worthy of their trust and they voted overwhelmingly against the proposed progressive income tax.
Let’s be perfectly clear: The defeat of the progressive income tax is a repudiation of the entire political class. Voters in Illinois are tired of paying the price for the reckless spending of career politicians of both political parties.
The people of Illinois want fiscal sanity, real solutions to the state’s economic issues, and a vision for the future that gives hope to all “classes” of people. They are tired of the corruption, the influence peddling, the pay-to-play climate in Springfield and the gross financial mismanagement. In short, the people of Illinois have no faith in the political class and they want real change.
The voters have spoken, but is anyone listening?
The Democratic leaders in Illinois only listen to powerful special interests that pay big money to ensure there will be no action on any meaningful reforms. But what about the Republicans? Will my party pay attention to the message voters sent on Nov. 3?
This is the time for the Republican Party to become the champion for the 55% of voters who rejected Pritzker’s massive tax increase scheme. The opportunity is there, but it is up to the Republican party to seize that opportunity.
Our party has a distinct opportunity to provide a real vision for the future of this state. We need a specific agenda for anti-corruption reform, pension reform, spending reform and tax reform. We need policies that are geared towards revitalizing both the inner city and rural areas that too often are neglected and left behind.
Let’s show citizens that not only do we understand the problems and have specific solutions, we understand how these problems affect your everyday life. We all need to better understand how poor policy results in loss of value in our education system, our homes, our investments, our safety, and our wages. It’s time to boldly, creatively and definitively deal with the longstanding structural imbalances that are driving our tax burdens through the roof and limiting our future opportunities.
No more of the endless blue-ribbon commissions. It’s time for solutions, not commission reports that gather dust in desk drawers. The Republican Party can be the party that leads on the solutions our state so desperately needs. All that is required is bold leadership and a willingness to embrace what today’s Republican Party has become.
The Republican Party is no longer the country club party of our grandfathers, but is now the party of working families. We need to take a stand for the issues affecting the middle classm starting with a recognition of the fact that in the eyes of voters the problems in Springfield cross party lines.
It is not just Democrats to blame for the current financial crisis in Illinois. Both parties have a credibility gap. If Republicans want to lead the 2.7 million people who voted against the progressive income tax, they must present a clear vision for the future and stand up for ideas and policies that will resonate with middle class voters.
Republicans need to be more than just the anti-Speaker Michael Madigan party. Republicans need to be the party of real solution and real ideas. The opportunity to lead is there. I suggest we take it.
State Rep. Blaine Wilhour represents the 107th District in Effingham.
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