Illinois Policy Institute –
Enjoy it. After years of close calls, near misses, moral victories and (let’s be honest) quite a few losses, it’s finally the taxpayers who stand in the middle of the ring, albeit bloodied and bruised – but sweetly victorious!
As of 7:45 p.m. tonight, I am proud to report to you that we have defeated the attempt to raise taxes on Illinois families. Next year, your state income taxes are slated to go from 5 percent to 3.75 percent as you were promised.
Below, you’ll read about how we accomplished this feat. But we couldn’t have done it without help from our generous donors. They’re people just like you who understand that Illinois needs to cut spending and reform out-of-control government worker pensions – not keep tightening the screws on taxpayers.
Let’s be clear about the scope of this victory. It is seismic. Momentous. Two weeks ago, this was impossible. Democrat leaders were laughing at us. The conventional wisdom was that House Speaker Mike Madigan, who had publicly committed himself to finding the votes to raise taxes, would do what he always seems to do: win by any means necessary.
But Mike Madigan had already thrown his weight behind two other proposals this spring, only to have us beat him at his own game. First, we lined up the entire Republican caucus against the progressive tax hike before targeting moderate and vulnerable Democrats on the issue. When it looked like we had secured the votes to stop the progressive tax, the Speaker shifted to a new strategy – a 3 percent “surcharge” on those making more than $1 million. Without taking our foot off the gas against the progressive tax, we shifted our argument to beat back this new proposal. And it’s a good thing we didn’t quit on the progressive tax fight because, sure enough, once we killed the millionaire tax, the progressive tax was right there lurking in the shadows. After defeating those constitutional amendments – both of which required three-fifths majorities in both houses of the General Assembly – the assumption in Springfield was that the income tax extension would be easy pickings as it needed only a simple majority.
Again, we were laughed at for thinking we could win. Some said the Republican caucus would never hold together, others knew that the unions were all in for the extension, and still others thought that just because the Speaker hadn’t lost three big votes like these in a row before that it wasn’t possible.
But with preparation, proper strategy, sufficient resources and quality execution, anything is possible. And we knew we had all four.
First, we relentlessly used data and analytics to grow our existing marketing channels and add new ones – all to deliver our messaging to key targets. We did this so well that our audience size began to rival that of legacy media brands.
Second, we took back the moral high ground from the Left. We made a compelling “fairness” argument that penetrated. The amazing team at the Illinois Policy Institute took the lead in demonstrating that a tax hike was not necessary to balance the state’s budget. But most importantly, we showed that the tax hike would be deeply unfair – particularly for Illinois’ poor and disadvantaged.
Third, we worked the levers of power in a way that took the establishment by surprise. We learned from past failures and adapted. Illinois Policy Action followed up with a holistic marketing campaign that forced lawmakers to reject a tax hike. We positioned the tax hike proposal as an unjust “breaking” of a promise, and therefore it became more painful for legislators to support the tax hike than to oppose it.
For a more detailed description of our five-year fight against irresponsible tax hikes, check out our complete tax fight timeline.
There were no close calls. No near misses. No moral victories. Just victory!
The leadership we provided on this issue would have been absent and the tax-raisers would have, once again, gotten their way if not for Illinoisans like you who contributed to this cause and who, tonight, share in this victory! Please join Illinois Policy Action today and help us keep racking up victories for taxpayers!
This is one series of victories, but as we all know, it is not enough; much more must be done. Yet, being the optimists we are, we believe that someday in the not-too-distant future, the people of Illinois will look back on this day and say that this was when our comeback started. They’ll say that this day was the turning of the tide. Some people will say that it was always inevitable. But we know the truth. We know that it wouldn’t have happened without you and the other committed patriots like you who’ve been there at every turn.
There will be many more fights along our road to prosperity – there is still much to do. But standing in the center of the ring tonight, I have to say … yo, Adrian! We did it!