By Warner Todd Huston | Watchdog Arena
Illinois has once again ranked as one of the worst states in America to be a taxpayer, according to a new report on taxpayer return on investment (ROI). But the state’s new Republican governor aims to change that negative status.
The new rankings by finance website WalletHub ranks the states on what taxpayers get out of their taxes. This year, Illinois ranks among the bottom ten states for the value taxpayers get for their tax dollars. Even adjusted for inflation, Illinois ranks as one of the nation’s worst states for taxpayers.
Among the taxes measured by the rankings are property, vehicle property, income, and sales and excise taxes. With these taxes considered, Illinois residents contribute an average of $7,719 a year in state and local taxes, some 37 percent more than the national average.
The survey finds that Illinois ranks as the worst state in real estate taxes at $3,939. Illinois fares a little better in two other areas, ranking 30th in income taxes and only 27th in sales and excise taxes. Overall, though, when the cost of living is adjusted, Illinois comes in at a fairly dismal 43rd place out of our 50 states.
Illinois residents seem to innately understand how bad their state fares compared to others, too, as the state is leading the nation in citizens moving away to other states.
“Illinois lost 94,956 residents to state-to-state migration last year,” Kevin Hoffman recently wrote, “the highest rate in decades and the biggest contributor to the state’s overall population decline.”
This makes Illinois one of the states with the most emigration out of the state to other states.
The 2015 rankings are not much better than last year, but is a small improvement.
This year will be the first year that Illinois’ new Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, has a shot at making some changes in these dismal rankings, and he is off to a solid start with his budget cut proposals.
Some have criticized the governor because a few of his top aides are being paid more than his Democratic predecessor’s aides, but that criticism doesn’t take into account that Rauner has turned down a salary and health care coverage for himself.
Rauner has also claimed that his hires will return better ROI than past governors because he is looking for the best people as opposed to merely making political pay offs. “We’ll pay what we need to bring in talented people,” Rauner said in January.
Regardless of that small PR bump, Rauner has been working overtime to close a $6.2 billion budget gap left by the profligate governor he replaced.
Rauner’s budget cut proposals are sitting badly with Democrats who want to keep the political gravy train rolling. And even the governor’s staff had to admit that some good programs are being cut simply because there just isn’t any money to keep them going.
“Balancing the budget is not hard. It’s not hard if you’re dedicated to doing it,” Rauner said to a bankers group on April 21. “We have, I can’t find, truly, a balanced budget in Illinois. I’ve looked back a long way. We are, we are done kicking the can, though. We are not doing that anymore.”
If Illinois is lucky and if the Democratic state Legislature will work with the new governor, perhaps the 2016 ROI rankings will show Illinois rising to a better status.
This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.