Roger Eddy (tax eater) v. Jerry Roper (tax payer)

Originally posted April 4, 2008.

The word from Springfield is that Roger Eddy, state representative and public school administrator, is seeking to round up some of the usual pro-tax-increase suspects from his fellow Republicans. The goal is to pass SB2288, an enormous tax increase being billed as a “tax swap.”

There is little doubt that many downstate public school employees have perused the available teacher and administrator salary databasesand have seen how profitable it is to be paid by taxpayers in the Chicago area. It is easy to surmise that they suffer from “high pay increase/high pension envy.”

Roger Eddy’s school district is downstate, where the cost of living is a lot lower, as are property tax revenues. That deadly combination has resulted in more modest pay increases and pensions more in line with those of taxpayers who don’t have their pensions mentioned in the state constitution.

It’s no surprise that downstate school employees like Roger Eddy would want to see an income tax increase, since that is one way to move their own compensation levels closer to their Chicago area colleagues, while sparing down-staters the nasty business of raising local property taxes.

We don’t know how many Republicans are being tempted to vote yes on SB2288, but we assume campaign disclosure reports will reflect many new teacher union contributions to those who are being courted.

School reform advocate Kevin Killion put it this way: “Our schools are in crisis…but money is not the problem, so money is not the solution.”

Jerry Roper, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, had the following letter published today in a suburban newspaper (emphasis added). Republican state legislators would be wise to heed Roper and not Roger.

Tax swap would raise tax burdens

“Last year, businesses and consumers alike were deeply troubled by the $7 billion gross receipts tax that was unveiled by Gov. Blagojevich.

And for good reason — this tax increase would have had a devastating effect on our economy. But today, an equally damaging tax is being discussed in Springfield and taxpayers of Illinois have reason to again be concerned.

Commonly referred to as “tax swaps,” Senate Bill 2288 and House Bill 750 would be an unprecedented $7.5 billion money grab in Illinois government, coming soon after the stunning sales tax increase enacted by the Cook County Board.

There is no hiding the fact that this is a tax increase of gigantic proportions — a 67 percent increase in the individual income tax rate, from 3 to 5 percent, and a 67 percent increase to the corporate income tax rate, from 4.8 to 8 percent.

While these “tax swap” bills may provide some temporary property tax relief, the overall tax burden on both individuals and businesses would increase.

We also have little confidence that property taxes won’t creep back to their present levels because this legislation lacks adequate safeguards to protect taxpayers from future increases. This new revenue would essentially feed our state’s broken pension and Medicaid systems that are badly in need of reform.

Perhaps most importantly, a tax increase of this magnitude would be counterproductive in these troubling economic times. Our lawmakers must instead embrace fiscal responsibility and focus on stimulating the economy to keep our state strong.”

©2008 John Francis Biver