Can Fiscal Sanity Prevail in Illinois?

(Click here to download the April 2014 National Right to Work Committee Newsletter

Government Union Monopolists Wary of Gubernatorial Challenger

For many years, private-sector employees, job seekers, and their families in forced-unionism Illinois have had to live with state compensation-growth and job-growth rates that are among the lowest in the entire U.S.

Can Fiscal Sanity Prevail in Illinois?Moreover, recent economic surveys offer little hope that the Prairie State can get back on its feet any time in the foreseeable future.

For example, in February Moody’s Analytics forecast that Illinois would rank dead last among the 50 states for job creation in 2014.

And a combination of abysmal private-sector growth and unsustainable commitments made to government union officials by Big Labor politicians and their appointees have put Illinois in a terrible fiscal bind.

Big Labor Politicians’ ‘Solution’: Hike Taxes on Everyone With an Income

As USA Today reported March 21, the Prairie State “has the lowest credit rating in the U.S. and was most recently downgraded for failing to properly fulfill pension obligations . . . .”

Despite a putative “landmark reform” of the state pension system enacted by the union-label Legislature and signed into law by Big Labor Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn last year, today Illinois’ “$187 billion pension liability represents 318% of its annual revenues . . . .”

How did the Prairie State get into such a deep hole?

The fact is, for decades Illinois has been burdened by labor policies authorizing union monopoly bargaining and forced union dues and fees in both the public and private sectors and a tax and regulatory climate that are hostile to private-sector job and income growth.

Today Big Labor politicians’ “solution” to Illinois’ many woes is to impose huge tax hikes on everyone who earns an income, most definitely including households getting by on modest wages and salaries.

For example, just last fall union-label Illinois House member Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana) proposed a 33% hike in the marginal state income tax rate for people with as little as $36,000 in annual taxable income and a 60% hike in the rate for people earning as little as $58,000.

The Jakobsson across-the-board tax hike and other similar proposals are designed to enable government union bosses to perpetuate throughout Illinois’ public sector, at the average citizen’s expense, outrageous featherbedding and counterproductive work rules.

Until very recently, despite the state’s enormous and undeniable problems, there has been very little resistance within the state’s political class to the pro-forced unionism, Tax & Spend status quo in Illinois.

‘Government Union Bosses Are At the Core of Our Spending Problem in Illinois’

GOP elected officials have either actively colluded with or offered only tepid resistance to the Big Labor Democrats who control the governor’s mansion as well as ample majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.

Fortunately for freedom-loving Illinoisans, however, the victor in last month’s Republican gubernatorial primary, businessman Bruce Rauner, has been sending strong signals that he is willing to fight for taxpayers and take on union special interests.

During a discussion of the state’s bankrupt pension system at one of the primary debates, for example, Mr. Rauner declared, “The government union bosses are at the core of our spending problem in Illinois.”

Government union bosses disliked what they heard from Mr. Rauner so much they dumped more than $6 million, mostly forced-dues treasury money, into a primary campaign attacking him and generously assisting one of his primary opponents, state Sen. Kirk Dillard (Westmont).

Meaningful Spending Reforms Impossible Without Rollback Of Union Monopoly Privileges

“Early prognostications are that Bruce Rauner represents a serious threat to Pat Quinn’s re-election bid,” said Greg Mourad, vice president of the National Right to Work Committee.

“But given that monopolistic government unionism is even more entrenched in Illinois than in most forced-unionism states, if Mr. Rauner wants not just to get elected, but to make significant positive changes once in office, he needs to begin spelling out what he plans to do soon.

“Specifically, to stop the union bosses from making a mess of Illinois’ fisc, Mr. Rauner will need somehow to persuade legislative majorities to curtail government unions’ monopoly-bargaining privileges, including but not limited to the power to force employees to pay union dues, or be fired.

“That’s undoubtedly a tall order. But given the gravity of the state’s situation, it may be achievable.”