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Letter: Sales tax turns 81

Published: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 9:51 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 10:15 p.m. CDT

To the Editor:

The news reports read: “Through lack of available funds in the treasury unavoidable delays occurred in the payment of State obligations.  As a result large sums of money were lost through failure of the State to take discounts.  Even more serious was the prospect that lack of funds would compel the State to default on bonds and interest falling due on State bonded obligations.”

Sounds like yesterday’s news, but it was actually from 1933.  That was the year –- in the depths of the depression – that Illinois switched from a statewide property tax to the state sales tax. It provided a far more reliable income stream and more tax revenue, which allowed the state to pay off its debts, provide unemployment relief to those effected by the depression, and fully fund education.  

Another interesting comparison with 1933 is the number of citizens reliant upon government programs and support. In 1933, approximately 1.2 million people, or 16.6 percent of the population, were reliant upon government for “the very necessities of life,” meaning various welfare services such as housing, healthcare, and food.  

Today, 15.5 percent of Illinois citizens collect food assistance (SNAP) and 21 percent rely on Medicaid.  One can conclude that a higher percentage of Illinois citizens are reliant on government assistance today than during the Great Depression!

We need to come together in this time of fiscal crisis and work to find a creative solution to the financial problems of the state while providing a fiscal benefit to our citizens. Like in 1933, Illinois citizens are clamoring for property tax relief. I strongly believe we need to overhaul our tax code, simplify it, and tax activity not possessions.

Robert Pritchard

State Represenative, 63rd District

R-Hinckley

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