Republicans hit opponents on financial issues

Treasurer, legislative candidates speak

EDWARDSVILLE – Republican candidates for state offices came to Edwardsville Wednesday afternoon to drum up support and criticize Democrats for their handling of the state’s finances.

Republican Tom Demmer, an Illinois House member seeking to unseat Democratic State Treasurer Michael Frerichs in November, joined other legislative candidates to talk about state finances. He specifically attacked purported statements by Frerichs suggesting a tax on retirement income made during debate on the 2020 failed constitutional referendum to institute a progressive income tax.

Demmer was flanked by state Rep. Amy Elik, R-Fosterburg, who is being challenged by former East Alton Mayor Joe Silkwood; Jennifer Korte, who is challenging incumbent state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, in the 112th District; and Erica Harriss, who will face recently appointed state Sen. Kris Tharp, D-Bethalto, in the 56th Senate District.

A number of other Republican elected officials and candidates also attended the event held between the Madison County Courthouse and Administration Building.

Demmer said Frerichs made statements supporting taxing retirement income when Democrats were pushing the 2020 referendum. Demmer said that, as a state representative, he has spent 10 years “fighting against income tax increases and calling out games Democrats have been playing.”

“Spending in Springfield continues to rise,” he said. “They spend as if the graduated tax passed, even though Illinois voters said ‘no, enough is enough.’”

The increased spending has been covered over in part, he said, by an “avalanche” of federal COVID-19 bailout cash that has “left Illinois in a position where Democrats will come back and ask for another tax increase.” He said the state’s treasurer should be a watchdog who provides sound fiscal policy.

“We need somebody in Springfield who will stand up to the status quo, who will be a check and balance, and an advocate for strong fiscal responsibility and against the continual tax hikes,” he added.

Taxing retirement income, he said, is “something that has been one of the few competitive advantages that Illinois has had to help keep retirees here after they finish their working career.”

The other GOP candidates echoed him on both general fiscal matters and the possibility of taxing retirement income.

Complaints about “poor leadership and failing fiscal policies” that have led to a “mass exodus” out of Illinois is one of the reasons Korte said she is running for the General Assembly.

“When I go door-to-door, I often hear from people who are seriously contemplating leaving our state,” she said. She blamed a “legacy of Democratic leadership” including “massive tax increases, out-of-control spending and reckless borrowing.”

She said Democrats, including Tharp, are political insiders.

“They will come back to raise our taxes like they always have,” she said. “We need true fiscal watchdogs, like me and my colleagues here today.”

Elik said Frerichs has been advocating for a progressive income tax since 2007.

“When I talked to voters at their doors, they said they were sick and tired of the endless tax-and-spend game political insiders are using to keep their power and don’t trust Democrats to spend their money wisely,” she said.

Harriss said the retirement tax, along with other state-imposed taxes, is a burden on Illinois residents.

I can tell you, here in the Metro-East, that will only cause more hardships and less growth,” she said, echoing the absence of a retirement tax as a competitive advantage.

Early voting begins Sept. 29 for the Nov. 8 election.

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