Caulkins blames tax hikes for declining population, lack of jobs growth
Dan Caulkins is worried that Illinois’ system of taxation has had the impact he has always feared it would.
“For me, it brings to mind that old adage ‘if you want less of something just tax it,’” he told the Chambana Sun. “That’s what’s happening here, we’re having less and less people staying here in Illinois. People just don’t want to have to pay more than they are already being forced to. It's killing them.”
A year after state lawmakers in Springfield moved to raise the personal income tax to 4.95 percent from 3.75 percent and the corporate income tax to 7 percent from 5.25 percent, the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) reports the state also has a weaker jobs market than the rest of the country.
“We’re lagging further and further behind other states,” Caulkins said. “It totally perplexes me that Democrats truly believe taxing is the answer for everything. That’s a plan that hasn’t worked for decades.”
Illinois has seen average annual jobs growth of 1.11 percent since the end of the Great Recession, compared to just 0.74 in the year since the income tax hike. Meanwhile, jobs growth in the rest of the U.S. remained virtually unchanged relative to its post-recession trend, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Caulkins is running against Democrat Jennifer McMillian in the 101st District and believes lawmakers have taken the state down the wrong path.
“Our leaders in Springfield keep pushing this same idea and it’s all about pleasing (House Speaker Mike) Madigan,” Caulkins said. “It’s taken this state down by every measure and is part of what makes this election so critical.”
A weak jobs market means wages for the state are destined to continue to grow slower in Illinois than in the rest of the country, according to IPI.
All that is only exacerbated by Census Bureau data showing for the fourth straight year Illinois experienced a population decline, with working-age people being most prominently among those fleeing the state in search of better opportunity.
Government data illustrates that Illinois’ prime working-age population has declined 5 percent while the U.S. prime working-age population has grown 1.4 percent, since the Great Recession.
“We need new direction, new people in Springfield willing to solve issues, and not just looking for a career," Caulkins said.
S&P Global Ratings released an analysis that Illinois’ budget will not do much to address the largest drivers of the state’s poor credit rating: pensions and the bill backlog. The state remains saddled with the lowest credit rating in the country, which is one level above “junk” status.
Data shows the 2018 budget ended the fiscal year with a $590 million deficit and the 2019 plan is approximately $1.5 billion out of balance, according to IPI.