St. Clair GOP plans to target future tax hike proposals
St. Clair County Republicans plan to cement their November election victories in the year ahead as well as battle local ballot measures that aim to boost the sales tax.
County GOP Chairman Douglas Jameson told the Metro East Sun that interest in Republican issues is surging in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory among St. Clair County voters in the presidential race.
“We’re seeing an increased number of people wanting to participate,” Jameson said, adding that interest in running for committeeman positions is on the rise and that the number of people attending GOP events is swelling.
Because there are no partisan elections this year in the county, the county GOP organization won’t be making any endorsements. “We don’t have any official involvement in municipal elections,” he said.
But on the county GOP’s radar screen are initiatives that will be on the local ballot in April. Voters will decide the fate of two proposals to increase the sales tax – one whose proceeds would go toward public safety, including improvements to the county jail, and another to help fund the building of public schools.
“We don’t yet have an official position on this, but the general consensus is that there’s not much support for it from the Republican side,” said Jameson, who noted that sales taxes are regressive and tend to hurt low-income residents.
On another tax front, the GOP chairman said his organization is also concerned about the movement toward a state budget agreement that may include increasing personal income taxes.
“The local population is looking at 2017 as the year when 7 percent of their income could be taken from them,” he said. That would be the combined result if both the state income tax and local sales taxes shoot up this year, according to Jameson.
Despite that prospect, the GOP official sees the November election results as a bellwether of sorts, giving Republicans hope that they can make political inroads in a region historically dominated by the Democratic Party.
“We’re just overjoyed that Congressman Mike Bost was re-elected,” he said. Bost is the first Republican elected to represent the region in Congress since 1945.
Jameson also points to GOP successes in the 5th District Appellate Court, which covers much of Southern Illinois and will now have a Republican majority for the first time ever after two GOP judges were elected in November. That change could have a bearing on legal issues affecting the entire state, he said.
“We also picked up another seat on the county board, though we’re still in the minority,” Jameson said, noting that the party still holds only nine of 29 seats on the governing board.
He also pointed to the upset victory of Republican Ronald Duebbert in the 20th Judicial Circuit election, ending the 35-year reign of Democrat John Baricevic.
Jameson stressed that the GOP did not lose any positions in St. Clair County in November. And the local party strongly endorses Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Rebuild Illinois agenda in terms of reforming the state pension and workers’ compensation systems and instituting term limits on legislators, he said.