When Gov. J.B. Pritzker gave his State of the State address last month, small business owners like myself heard his message loud and clear: After years of fiscal mismanagement and putting partisanship before responsible governance, Illinois is finally back on track.
Whether it was passing an historic investment in our state’s infrastructure to rebuild the roads and bridges we all travel on every day, or bringing relief to 300,000 businesses through the phasing out of the franchise tax, last spring’s legislative session was a success for all Illinoisans, including our small businesses.
Even raising the minimum wage to $15, which opponents of progressive policies love to attack, is a boon to business owners like myself. The additional income hardworking Illinoisans are making through an increased wage is extra money that goes directly back into our economy. Higher wages provide families increased disposable income who once didn’t have it, drawing new customers into our businesses.
The next step our state needs to continue on the path to success for all our residents is passing the Fair Tax in November.
By only raising taxes on the wealthiest 3% of Illinoisans, the Fair Tax will ensure that 97% of residents see no income tax increase while generating approximately $3.4 billion in additional revenue for our state.
While only those making more than $250,000 a year will see their taxes increase, middle and lower-income families who have shouldered the burden of our current tax system will get much-needed relief.
Full disclosure: There are years where I do not make over $250,000, but over the 35 years I’ve been a business owner, there are more years where I have. Paying more in taxes when you’re making more than $250,000 a year is a small price to pay when you consider the positive impact that $3.4 billion in additional revenue can have on helping the middle-class customers who frequent my business, and businesses like mine, all over the state.
The additional revenue the Fair Tax will generate can go a long way toward making our state a better place for everyone to live and start a business.
When you’re considering opening a small business, there are a number of considerations to take into account, not the least of which is where the right location to do so is.
Business owners of all stripes want to start their endeavors in a stable economic environment, and for years, Illinois has been defined by uncertainty and volatility, including budget stalemates and billions of dollars in debt. The money from the Fair Tax will begin to dig our state out of its financial crisis and build a solid foundation for fiscal sustainability in Illinois.
Another major concern for someone looking to start a business is whether it’s somewhere they want to raise their family — a place where their children can get a good education that sets them up for success.
And for too long, Illinois’ education system has not been adequately serving all of its students. In many communities, our children have been learning from outdated textbooks in crumbling schools with too-large class sizes. The Fair Tax will help address those issues. A highly educated workforce is a large incentive when business owners are choosing geography to invest in their entrepreneurial ideas. By bringing in revenue that helps Illinois meet its obligation to fund our schools, the Fair Tax will work to bring these schools up to the standards all of our children deserve, and that future employers covet.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the Fair Tax, and unfortunately there are some within the business community who are leading these false narratives. But the fact remains that the Fair Tax will help all our residents, including the thousands of small businesses that make up the backbone of our communities.
David Borris serves on the Executive Committee of the Main Street Alliance, a national business network.