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Reading Between the Numbers: Where Liberal Policies Fail

How long before the entire nation begins to feel the full brunt of these policies?

Lobbyists and visitors to the Illinois State Capitol wait along the "Brass Rail" while lawmakers return for a special session to tackle pension and tax incentive legislation Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 in Springfield Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

The state of Illinois is in a fiscal mess.

Recent reports show that Illinois leads the nation in out-migration of residents, leads the nation in having the most taxing districts, ranks second with the highest property taxes, consistently ranks in the top 10 for the most tax burden, and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University have Illinois’ fiscal condition rank as 48th in the nation.

The rankings are justified considering Illinois is the state with the lowest credit rating and over $5 billion in unpaid bills.

Lobbyists and visitors to the Illinois State Capitol wait along the "Brass Rail" while lawmakers return for a special session to tackle pension and tax incentive legislation Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 in Springfield Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) Lobbyists and visitors to the Illinois State Capitol wait along the "Brass Rail" while lawmakers return for a special session to tackle pension and tax incentive legislation Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 in Springfield Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

On Jan. 1, 2011 a 67 percent state income tax increase went in to affect for Illinois residents. The tax increase was meant to pay down the backlog of unpaid bills (then over $6 billion) and help pay nearly $4 billion in missed payments for the underfunded state pension system. The 67 percent tax increase was also meant to be temporary and should expire at the end of 2014.

Many are speculating that legislators will extend the tax increase because bills are still high. At the same time, there is also a push by independent groups within the state to change the state income tax rate from its current “flat tax” to a “progressive tax” that would set a higher tax rate for those with higher incomes.

Advocates for both extending the tax increase and for the progressive income tax both say that Illinois doesn’t have enough revenue to fix the state’s financial problems. “More revenue,” of course, is a non-threatening way to say “raise taxes." Other liberal states like California, New York and New Jersey have similar storylines as Illinois with similar groups advocating for more revenue.

Using data from census.gov, we can clearly see how liberal-leaning states are not only the ones failing but also the ones already leading in revenue. This chart was color coded to show the most liberal-leaning states highlighted in “red” and the states with no state personal income tax highlighted in “green."

Courtesy of author. Courtesy of author.

When you look at the chart you can see that the “population” of the liberal-leaning states varies, so this isn’t an issue only affecting the most populated states. The next column for “fiscal score,” which comes from the Mercatus Center, is heavily “red” at the bottom, showing that most of the liberal-leaning states rank poorly with fiscal issues.

The next two columns show that the liberal-leaning states also pay the most taxes per person. When you look at the state revenue per person and compare it to their fiscal score it’s interesting to see that the green states (those with no state personal income tax) have the lowest state revenue per person, but at the same time they have top fiscal scores!

The one area where the liberal-leaning states aren’t at the bottom is in sales tax revenue per person. Yet these states don’t have lower sales tax rates, they just don’t have as many people buying products. Their economies are not moving as much as states that don’t have personal income tax!

An extra column was added to show where the states rank as it pertains to state legislator pay. This was based on salaries only as reported on Ballotpedia.com and does not include per diem. Interestingly the liberal-leaning states (that have more revenue per person, that pay more taxes per person, that have less people buying products, and have poor financial conditions)  have the highest paid legislators!

The one exception is with the state of New Hampshire. New Hampshire is a liberal-leaning state as far as their voting record, however, the state doesn’t have state personal income tax and the legislature only gets paid $200 per two year term. They broke the liberal mold and consistently rank along with more conservative states in all areas.

Unfortunately, the liberal policies that have plagued Illinois and other liberal-leaning states are continually being implemented on the national level. How long before the entire nation begins to feel the full brunt of these policies? How long can we go without paying attention to the numbers?

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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