By Mark Wachtler
December 31, 2015. Chicago. (ONN) Two new reports released last week paint a bleak picture for the state of Illinois, especially Chicago. State government has been crippled by a budget impasse. Cook County government has been co-opted by a single official and teeters on bankruptcy. And Chicago is in a state of revolution over police corruption and murder cover-ups. The latest reports show Illinois has lost more residents than any state in the country and Chicago now has the highest taxes in the nation.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s new 2016 budget includes record tax increases. Image courtesy of Maguzz.com.
Recent data released by the US Census Bureau and reported on by Reboot Illinois shows that 105,200 more people moved out of Illinois than moved in during the 12 months from mid-2014 to mid-2015. Even when natural growth such as births and foreign immigration are added in, the state still was one of only a few in the nation that had a net loss of residents. With all avenues factored in, Illinois had a net loss of 22,200 people.
The few other states showing a net loss included Connecticut (-3,876), Maine (-928), Mississippi (-1,110), New Mexico (-458), Vermont (-725), and West Virginia (-4,623). Some states, like New York, saw more residents move out than in. But that number turned positive when births and international immigration were added in.
When pushed for a comment, the state’s two top establishment party leaders had drastically different responses. A representative for Republican Governor Bruce Rauner laid the blame on ruling Democrats saying, “Businesses, especially manufacturers, are ignoring Illinois as a place to grow their companies because of the economic climate.” A spokesman for House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) ducked the question saying that the US Census Bureau only published raw data and there were no conclusions to draw from it.
Highest taxes in the country
Congratulations people of Chicago! We once again have the highest taxes in the country thanks to a $1.1 billion tax increase and the largest property tax increase in history. A report from NewsMax and ChicagoNow summed up the flurry of new taxes and fees Chicagoans will be paying come January 1st. Analysts estimate that they will cost every Chicago household $1,100 more in taxes next year.
“More than a billion dollars in new money taken from hardworking residents and no reform to show for it - this is the Chicago way,” the authors write, “A decades-long failure in leadership now jeopardizes the future of a once-great city, from which residents are fleeing for brighter futures every day.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his City Council appeared to put regular homeowners in the crosshairs with the bulk of the new taxes coming in the form of a record property tax increase that will cost each homeowner an additional $600 on average next year. The tax will go up every year for the next four years.
Another new tax that will hit homeowners is the new $9.50 per month garbage collection tax. Also, taxis and ride sharing drivers will have to pay an additional $0.52 and $0.50 per fare respectively. They’ll also have to pay a $5.00 tax each time they drop off or pick up passengers at Chicago’s two airports or the convention centers.
People trying to quit smoking will pay more with a $1.25 tax on e-cigarettes and $0.25 tax on replacement cartridges. People who use cloud computing, which is everyone these days, will pay a new 9% tax on everything from the use of the cloud to streaming Netflix movies. Building permit fees went up along with a hike in the city’s hotel tax, bringing it all the way up to 17.4%. Rounding off the list, gun owners will pay a tax on each bullet they purchase and anyone buying tickets from a broker or reseller will also be paying more.
Critics of the higher taxes, which include virtually everyone but government employees, are complaining that having the highest tax rate in the country will bankrupt the city by pushing even more homeowners and businesses out. They also point to the fact that practically the entire $1.1 billion tax hike is going straight into the pockets of government employees, with cuts in services as residents’ reward.
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