Election

Taxation, spending top issues for Senate 37 candidates

The rate of taxation and government spending are placing too great a burden on Illinois residents, say the two men running in the June 28 Republican primary for the 37th District state Senate seat.

No doubt, Win Stoller and Brett Nicklaus have identified the challenge from their professional lives. Stoller is a business owner from Germantown Hills with a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Illinois. Nicklaus owns a Dixon business and has been a certified financial planner since 2003.

There are no candidates on the Democratic side.

Both candidates responded to questionnaires sent to their campaigns by Shaw Media.

Stoller is completing his first term in the state Senate. The district was reconfigured to reach north into Lee County.

Nicklaus said the Legislature has an obligation to do more than the tax relief package signed by Gov. JB Pritzker in April.

“Illinoisans are having a hard time paying the daily cost of living in today’s world,” said Nicklaus. “The steps that were taken in this year’s tax relief was a start, but it was full of election-year sweeteners. It includes suspension of the gas tax increase that will expire a month after the general election.”

Largely in agreement, Stoller ties that to new government spending — including how the state allocated three-fourths of its $8 billion in COVID-19 federal recovery money. He and other Republicans — including Nicklaus — wanted to use that money to address the shortfall in the Unemployment Compensation Fund.

“Later this year, if the state doesn’t come up with the $2 billion shortfall, it will result in cuts to unemployment benefits for people who lost their jobs, and it will result in one of the largest tax hikes on employers in the history of our state.”

Stoller is running on his record. He sponsored legislation that passed which enables small businesses that are partnerships and S corporations to deduct the full amount of their state and local taxes on federal returns.

“That puts small business on par with large corporations,” he said.

Nicklaus has twice held office, as a precinct committee person and as a member of the Dixon City Fire Pension Board.

In addition to high taxes, he hopes to address “blatant government overreach” in schools, businesses and homes.

“Increasing regulation on businesses and schools is a main cause of high property taxes that homeowners are faced with everyday,” he said.

The questionnaires were sent out in April. Both candidates anticipated the problems associated with inflation, including rising gas prices, early on, with Stoller tying it to federal monetary policy. They are also in agreement that the legislature’s SAFE-T-ACT — which holds police accountable for unlawful acts — needs repeal, Nicklaus because it “incentivizes criminals while limiting how law enforcement can perform daily duties” and Stoller because it “did away with cash bail” and imposed “unfunded mandates” on local police departments to comply with the law.

Both favor term limits. Nicklaus wants it “especially for legislative leadership,” noting the long tenure of former House Speaker Michael Madigan while Stoller specified eight-year terms for governor and constitutional officers, eight- to 10-years for legislative leaders and 12 years for rank-and-file state legislators.

Both mentioned the tax burden felt by Illinoisans as one of the nation’s highest. Neither cited their assertion. The Tax Foundation, a tax policy nonprofit in operation since 1937, identified Illinois’ state and local average tax rate at 8.81%, ranking it eighth in the nation as of January 2022. WalletHub’s March 7 report said each Illinois household has an income and property tax burden of $9,488, which was first in its ranking. As recently as May 12, Kiplinger said Illinois was first when ranking the tax burden on middle-class families.

Nicklaus sees revenue growth as a potential out.

“Recruiting and retaining employees and employers to our state to help grow the underlying tax base should be the top priority,” Nicklaus said.

Stoller reiterated his call to curtail spending. “Well, there is only one thing we need to do,” he said. “To live within our means like every household and every business.”

Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for Saukvalley.com and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.