Discussions at the coffee and tackle shop, at local lakes and heard from just about every outdoors person I run into, is about taxes and the sustainability of one’s ability to live in Illinois and continue what we do as taxes increase.
Whether you hunt, fish or camp, just being in the outdoors for many is under attack —and it's taxes that are the culprit.
I, like most who love the outdoors, are all for paying my fair share if the monies used are earmarked and are delivered to the places like roads and infrastructure, but the wolf in sheep’s clothing seems to have raised its ugly head one too many times. There is little hope or trust by those in our sector that funds will be used appropriately. Too many unfulfilled promises and many just cannot afford to have any increases.
As we all feel the burdens of more taxes in all sectors, outdoors folks seem to be the target at times more than others.
Let me be clear here. We buy boats with trailers, use public resources and should be paying for that, but recently we again are seeing increases that it seems will not only impact us but construction companies, landscapers and anyone who has a trailer.
I have three boats by choice — one for Evergreen, one Soldier events and a release pontoon we use to take fish back out to the lake after high school and Sam Leman Everbloom tournaments. My choice entirely.
Here is the rub — railer licenses will go from $18 per trailer to $118 each. A $100 increase and most believe, pardon the pun, it's highway robbery and extreme by any standard.
I use myself as the example here, but honestly I hear it more and more each day from folks all over the state. It also seems there was little debate or input from other citizens, outdoors folks or others impacted. Did anyone get asked for rebuttal or options? Most believe not.
My three boats are small potatoes to construction companies and landscape companies who may have 50 or more trailers in their fleet, and again the little guy is left holding the bag as those costs will be passed down by those companies going to recoup their costs.
Most companies cannot eat that additional cost and with gas tax increases, road tax increases and property tax increases, it is not sustainable for most. For those who have boats and campers, they just don’t go as much or at all.
For the record and based on the budget that was approved, increased taxes were not followed by decreased spending and all of us writing the checks seem to have very little say. It seems the only way to have our voices heard is through votes, and there seems to be a groundswell for change.
Trailer plates are just one example and this was done without first seeing if other programs like recreational marijuana sales and “safer roads” taxes were in place. Most ask what spending was cut to help.
At my house we have a budget and spend to that budget for food, house costs, dining out and recreation and only can spend what comes in. Fuel costs have increased at the same time, too, and there doesn’t seem to be any accountability with where those monies are going, either, although they were earmarked for roads. And what about the lottery? I digress.
Most are not against paying more if these funds actually reach their predetermined location.
Those that might have thoughts about buying that fishing boat for family, taking a vacation or even improving their property may have to wait as salaries and abilities to make more money is not commensurate with these tax increases.
I am seeing on a monthly basis more friends, who can, moving away to better climates and less tax burden, and I honestly don’t blame them. Trojan horse bills, bills that look like good things but those with undertows and pork in them, occur almost daily, and as a journalist I do try to keep up with them but it is overwhelming. Those that stay in Illinois will be held accountable for those that leave with tax burdens increased. More with less is not a good thing.
Hunting, fishing, our parks and our jobs need some relief and support. I hear it every day from my associates all over the state. They cannot withstand much more.