Apply for the Governor's Hometown Award, applications are being accepted now

The Governor’s Hometown Awards program, now in its fourth year, recognizes individuals and organizations that make an impact on the quality of life in their community. The award is given to projects that met a need with substantial volunteer support and made a significant impact in the nominee's town or village.

The Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service is accepting applications for this year's Governor’s Hometown Awards (GHTA) program now through February 19. The Governor’s Hometown Award promotes the Commission’s mission to improve Illinois communities "by enhancing volunteerism and instilling an ethic of service throughout the state." The GHTA recognizes projects that, with the help of local government, enlisted sizeable community support and volunteerism resulting in beneficial outcome not only for recipients of the effort but the for the overall community.

The competition is open to townships, villages, cities, and counties for projects during the period of January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020.

Past recipients include Edwardsville's Growing with the Garden which was recognized in 2018. Working with the Edwardsville YMCA Early Childhood Development Center to design and develop three raised gardens in the facility’s children’s playground, an Edwardsville High School senior taught kids at the center the importance of vegetables in the diet, helped them plant, cultivate and harvest vegetables from the new gardens.

With more than 35,000 veterans in Lake County, an educational program that demonstrated the benefits that equine-assisted therapy provides service men and women and veterans who face challenges such as PTSD was the result of a collaboration between BraveHearts, a therapeutic riding and educational center, and the Veterans of Lake Barrington Shores in 2018. The joint cooperation created an interactive event for Lake Barrington and its surrounding communities that resulted in GHTA recognition the following year in 2019.

Locally, in 2018, Urbana was honored as a project winner for their "Friendship Grove Nature Playscape" project. A year later, Urbana received an Honorable Mention for their "Urbana Park District Advisory Committee" work and Vermilion County also received and HM nod with their "Step Up Vermilion County" project.

For additional information regarding program and the application process, please visit This year's application can be downloaded from this link: 2020 GHTA Application.

The Serve Illinois Commission is made up of a bipartisan group of 40 members board appointed by the Governor JB Pritzker and is administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Spartan basketball schedule is out and players are ready

The first St. Joseph-Ogden basketball game of the season tips off next Thursday when the girls' team will square off in a rematch at home against Villa Grove on February 4. The Blue Devils, who were eliminated from the IHSA postseason by the Spartans a mere 51 weeks - give or take a few days - ago, will be seeking revenge for the 50-34 loss in 2020.

Peyton Jacob drives to paint for the Spartans
Payton Jacob drives to the paint during the St. Joseph-Ogden's girls last home game in 2020. The Lady Spartans debut in their first home game of year next Thursday against Villa Grove. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
The boys squad also opens at home next week. On Friday, the SJO boys squad will take the floor against Cissna Park in the main gym at the high school. The Spartans will have six more home games before closing out their season on the road at Monticello.

The Spartans' ultra shortened season for both the girls and boys will end on March 8 and 9 respectively with no postseason play as per the recently released IHSA schedule that is squeezing normally ten months of prep sports and activities into five. Both varsity and junior varsity squads on each side will play a 12-game schedule this season.

Despite the low number of contests, players are excited to finally be able to get out on the court and compete.

"I know my teammates are all just as excited as I am," said St. Joseph-Ogden junior Taylor Wells. "We have all been waiting for answers on whether or not our season would happen since November. My team and I are very excited to be back in the gym getting to work."

Ty Pence, whose skill set and work ethic on the hardwood is paying dividends as his stock rises as a top college prospect in Illinois, echoed Wells' enthusiasm.

"I was very excited when I heard the news," he said. "I’m glad that our seniors will have a chance to have their season and hopefully we can be the best we can be.

Below are this year's boys and girls junior varsity and varsity schedules.

St. Joseph-Ogden Junior Varsity Basketball Schedule


Cissna Park High School
SJO Main Gym • 6:00 PM

St. Thomas More High School
SJO Main Gym • 5:30 PM

Rantoul High School
Rantoul High School • 5:30 PM

Bloomington Central Catholic High School
SJO Main Gym • 5:30 PM

Unity High School
Unity High School • 5:30 PM

Pontiac High School
SJO Main Gym • 5:30 PM

Prairie Central High School
Prairie Central High School • 5:30 PM

Illinois Valley Central High School
SJO Main Gym • 5:30 PM

Olympia High School
SJO Main Gym • 5:30 PM

Teutopolis High School
SJO Main Gym • 1:00 PM

Monticello High School
Monticello High School • 5:30 PM


Villa Grove High School
SJO Main Gym • 06:00 PM

St. Thomas More High School
St. Thomas More High School • 05:30 PM

Rantoul High School
SJO Main Gym • 05:30 PM

Bloomington Central Catholic High School
Bloomington Central Catholic • 05:30 PM

Unity High School
SJO Main Gym • 05:30 PM

Pontiac High School
Pontiac High School • 05:30 PM

Prairie Central High School
SJO Main Gym • 05:30 PM

Paris High School
Paris High School • 11:00 AM

Illinois Valley Central High School
Illinois Valley Central High School • 05:30 PM

Olympia High School
Olympia High School • 05:30 PM

Teutopolis High School
Teutopolis High School • 01:00 PM

Monticello High School
SJO Main Gym • 05:30 PM

St. Joseph-Ogden Varsity Basketball Schedule


Cissna Park High School
SJO Main Gym • 07:30 PM

St. Thomas More High School
SJO Main Gym • 07:00 PM

Rantoul High School
Rantoul High School • 07:00 PM

Bloomington Central Catholic High School
SJO Main Gym • 07:00 PM

Unity High School
Unity High School • 07:00 PM

Pontiac High School
SJO Main Gym • 07:00 PM

Prairie Central High School
Prairie Central High School • 07:00 PM

Illinois Valley Central High School
SJO Main Gym • 07:00 PM

Olympia High School
SJO Main Gym • 07:00 PM

Teutopolis High School
SJO Main Gym • 02:30 PM

Monticello High School
Monticello High School • 07:00 PM


Villa Grove High School
SJO Main Gym • 07:30 PM

St. Thomas More High School
St. Thomas More High School • 07:00 PM

Rantoul High School
SJO Main Gym • 07:00 PM

Bloomington Central Catholic High School
Bloomington Central Catholic • 07:00 PM

Unity High School
SJO Main Gym • 07:00 PM

Pontiac High School
Pontiac High School • 07:00 PM

Prairie Central High School
SJO Main Gym • 07:00 PM

Paris High School
Paris High School • 12:30 PM

Illinois Valley Central High School
Illinois Valley Central High School • 07:00 PM

Olympia High School
Olympia High School • 07:00 PM

Teutopolis High School
Teutopolis High School • 02:30 PM

Monticello High School
SJO Main Gym • 07:00 PM

Photo of the Day - January 28, 2021

SJO's Frankie Izard runs to 7th place at state

Izard clocks 12.64

St. Joseph-Ogden's Frankie Izard tries to stay ahead of Camp Point Central's Zakila Wiskirchen and Chicago Christian's Rylei Jackson (left) during the 100-Meter Dash championship race during the 2016 IHSA Girls State Track Finals in Charleston. Izard, whose career PR was 10.65, finished in 7th place at 12.64. She also competed in the 60-Meter Dash, 200-Meter Dash, 400-Meter Dash, Long Jump and the Triple Jump during her prep track & field career.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Free exercise program for adults as part of a new study at U of I

Has the pandemic got you or your parents a little out of shape?

Dr. Neha Gothe, a Doctor in Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois Department of Kinesiology, is conducting a research based study on the benefits of Yoga, Stretching-Toning, and Aerobic exercises on brain health. Gothe is the Director of the Exercise Psychology Lab where she explores the bio-psycho-social health benefits of physical activity across the lifespan.

Darice Brooks, who is coordinating the project, is looking for adults between the ages of 55 and 79 who would like to participate in the free 6-month exercise program.

"Each participant will be a part of one of the three groups and earn up to $240," Brooks said. "Along with the $240, participants will get a physical activity tracker and exercise equipment that they will get to keep at the end of the study."

Brooks said the COVID precautions will be observed with all exercise sessions. Participants and staff are required to wear face masks and all exercise spaces will be cleaned and disinfected following University protocol. Group size is limited to just 10 people at a time and everyone will have "adequate space (6ft or more) between them during the in-person exercise sessions". All research staff members are tested 2x a week via the UIUC Shield program.

The project is seeking participants 55–79 years old, right-handed, desire a more active lifestyle, and exercise less than a couple hours a week. Interested adults also must have no past or current diagnosis of cognitive impairment, have no health conditions that may be exacerbated by exercise, will be in the community for the duration of the study as well as have no MRI contraindications.

The project is funded by a grant from the National Institute on Aging and is called "S.A.Y. Exercise". There are three PhD students and two students working towards their masters also working on the project.

For more information click on the flyer below or visit the study's website at

College Notebook | Crowe leads Cobras to 2-0 start

Crowe shines in Parkland season opener

Peyton Crowe opened her sophomore season with the Parkland College with an 18-point performance against Jefferson College last Wednesday. The St. Joseph-Ogden grad now starting a starting five with the Cobras, led the team in steals with three in the 71-62 home win on January 20. Crowe is averaging 14 points per game after the first two wins for the 2-0 Parkland girls squad.

Bree Trimble shoots a free throw her senior year
Bree Trimble shoots a free throw in a home game againt Oakwood in 2018.
Photo by Clark Brooks

Trimble scores 13 at Parkland

Starting along side teammate Peyton Crowe, Bree Trimble went 2-for-2 from the free throw line to finish the night with 13 points in Parkland College's second home contest of the season. She led the Cobra with four of the team's 17 assists in the 71-64 victory on January 23.

Baker captures two firsts

Last Saturday, Riley Baker, a junior on the Eastern Illinois University track team, set a new indoor facility record at the Indiana State John Gartland Invite in Terre Haute. The former Spartan hurdler and sprint specialist took first in the men's 400-meter run with a time of 50.00 in the new the state of the art Indoor Track & Field Facility that opened in 2018.

Later, as a member of the Panthers' 4x400 relay squad, along with teammates Damian Clay, Tadiwa Mhonde and Gregory Downs, he earned another first place award when his foursome led the field with 3:22.52 win the event.

Baker and the EIU men's track team are back in action again on February 12 at the Grand Valley Big Meet in Allendale, Michigan.

Plotner makes college running debut

Freshman Jillian Plotner started her college cross country career with the University of Tennessee at Martin by helping her team to a third place finish at the Redhawks Invite held at Osage Centre Fields on January 23. Plotner, the fifth runner from the Skyhawks to cross the finish line, turned in a time of 20:05.6 in the 2020-21 season opener. UT Martin competed in a field which included regional foes Eastern Illinois, Memphis, SIUE and Southeast Missouri. The women's team finished with 74 points.

Mabry #3 runner for EIU

Former St. Joseph-Ogden distance specialist Sam Mabry was the third runner to finish for the Eastern Illinois University Panthers at the Redhawks Challenge at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, MO.. EIU finished fifth in the women's 5k race. Mabry, a 2019 grad from SJO, who raced against former teammate Jillian Plotner (SJO '21), now at UT Martin, turned in a time of 20:34.8 to finish 29th overall.

Know a Unity or St. Joseph-Ogden graduate playing at collegiate level? Let us know their name, sport(s) and where they are playing. An email or a link to their social media account for interviews is a big help, too. Send The Sentinel a message to us at

IHSA releases 2021 schedule for sports

John Lydgate said, "You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all of the time."

IHSA News That phrase will no doubt echo the feelings around the state after the Illinois High School Association released the schedule high school sports for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year in Illinois.

The Board of Directors issued the following statement:

"Unprecedented circumstances create extraordinary decisions. The IHSA Board of Directors faced one of the most difficult decisions in the Association’s 100-plus year history today. Please know that we did so with great diligence, empathy, and understanding. There were an immense number of factors that went into today’s decisions. We knew there would be obstacles no matter what we decided. Whether those hurdles included overlapping seasons for multi-sport athletes, equity between sports, preseason acclimatization guidelines, the prioritization of spring sports, facility conflicts for schools, officiating, and that is just naming a few. Please know that each potential roadblock was recognized and given consideration. The IHSA membership, like our state, is incredibly large and diverse. Each Board member brought different concerns to the table that impacted their own school or region differently. There was never going to be a one-size fits all solution to playing 25 sports seasons in a little over four months. What did occur was collaboration and camaraderie. Each Board member may not have been able to have all of their specific concerns addressed, but we worked together to produce a schedule and plan that we believe will work for our student-athletes."

In case you haven't seen it yet, here is the list of the sports along with their start and finish dates.

2021 IHSA sports schedule

"We understood the high level of anticipation surrounding today’s announcement, along with the scrutiny that will accompany it," said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. "Ultimately, the Board adhered to its stated goals throughout the pandemic: providing an opportunity for every IHSA student-athlete to compete safely this year and maximizing opportunities for traditional IHSA spring sports after they lost their entire season a year ago."

Anderson added that "many schools and coaches could likely offer a tweak here or there that would have, in their opinion, made it 'better' for their school or sport". He believe the Boarks decisions are a positive step for the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of student-athletes around the state.

"We are excited to channel our energy into creating as many positive experiences for Illinois high school students as we can between now and the end of this extraordinary school year."

Every sport listed above, except football, requires athletes to attend seven practices on seven different days prior to competing. Two-a-day practices still count as one practice. In regards to football, participants must practice on 12 different days before playing their first game. Players transitioning from basketball or boys swimming & diving into football catch a break and are only required to complete 10 different days prior to their first contest.

The other key outcome from the meeting is IHSA guidelines will require all student-athletes and coaches to participate in masks. They will not be required for swimming & diving events, gymnasts on an apparatus or at outdoor events where social distancing can occur. All game personnel not participating in the contest must also masked and social distance as much as possible.

Photo of the day - January 27, 2021

Nick Krisman is ready to fire a pitch over the plate
Perfect pitch

Nick Krisman, a three-sport St. Joseph-Ogden standout and a member of the Heartland College baseball team, fires a pitch at Franzen Field during their quarterfinal playoff game in Gifford on August 2, 2008. Krisman earned the win after Royal beat Gifford-Flatville in a exciting, nine-inning affair, 11-10.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Guest Commentary: Happy to see documented immigrants come to America

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

Americans can expect more immigrants to enter our country in the months and years ahead. Most Americans aren't opposed to more citizens. Many of us are not favorable to undocumented foreigners roaming about our country.

I've been to Mexico and a few other countries. I've always had to show my passport and answer questions when entering another country or coming back to America. It only takes a few minutes. Many years ago, my sons and I stood in a line of about a hundred people coming back to San Diego from Tijuana, Mexico. We showed our Driver's license back then and came on back into the country. No one even asked for identification when we crossed into Mexico.

I'm happy to see documented immigrants come to America. They will come and they will work. In our area of the country we have a growing population of Hispanic farmers working our farmland. There are Hispanic restaurants popping up in every town. Asian restaurants, nail salons and more are on the increase. The best little food joint in our community is owned by a Hispanic immigrant and his family. They are the hardest working restaurant people I've ever seen.

Immigrants who document and come the legal way to America are coming here for a better life.

They are not coming to sit on their backsides and collect our food stamps, welfare and whatever minimal amount of income they can obtain. Most of them come to help their families, send money back home and to achieve the American dream. They don't come to be poor Americans. Many of these immigrants who are business owners often struggle and pay the price with many hours of hard work to stay open. For most of them, paying their workers $15 an hour will mean less hired labor and more hours of labor for the owners to try to keep their businesses open.

Steve Geis, from our town had this to say recently about his documented grandfather coming to America:

"Over 100 years ago my grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Germany. He came here via Ellis Island where it was documented where he came from as well as the destination he was going to. He said, "We know the name of the ship he was on, and names of all of its passengers. He and the many others did what was required of them to become legal citizens. Locally, we found copies of his naturalization process. He and most other immigrants did it correctly!"

He added, "I would say welcome to anybody who would follow the procedure and become a fellow citizen of our great country."

America is not opposed to legal immigrants. Most of us are opposed to undocumented people crossing our border illegally. We are opposed to anyone from any nation who might come with any intent to harm our country.

Let's continue to keep America a beautiful country for legal immigrants and a safe, free place for all.


Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author of American Issues, Every American Has An Opinion and ten other books. He is read in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization.


This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Sentinel. We welcome comments and views from our readers.


Photo of the day: January 26, 2021

After taking the baton, Migee Kim runs the anchor leg of 4x100

Quarter of the way to fourth

Sprinter Migee Kim takes the baton from teammate Ashley Shroyer during the 4x100m relay at the 2007 News-Gazette Honor Roll Meet at the University of Illinois track and field complex. The Rockets finished in fourth-place with a time of 52.61 thanks to speedy efforts of the duo.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media
Clark Brooks)

Parkland fall Dean's List includes students from all six communities

Despite the challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic at start of new academic year last fall, more than 40 area college students received recognition for their performance in the classroom and online while attending Parkland College.

Recipients named to the Dean's List must earn a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 grade scale for the semester to receive this honor. Student enrolled in fewer than 12 hours can make the Dean’s List by achieving a 3.5 cumulative GPA for 12 or more hours during the current academic year.

Fall 2020 Dean's List


Zach David
Adam Frerichs
Caleb Johnson
Kenly Taylor


Karson Ewerks
Marlena Finical
Kaitlyn Fink
Kia Freese
Ella Godsell
Peter Manrique
Tori Patton


Peyton Crowe


Jenna Albrecht
Danielle Almaraz
Emily Bigger
Abigail Burnett
Chloe Duckett
Avery Edwards
Emory Ericksen
Kameren Goodell
Erin Henkelman
Miranda Lindsey
Rebecca Long
Caroline Moore
Alivia Norem
Grant Siegmund
Tyler Slagley
Anna Wentzloff


Tucker Catron
Amy Ellis
Ruskin Hovde
Zeth McCloud
Kaitlyn Pruetting
Katelin Roberts
Sydney Schurvinske
Elysabeth Short
Enoch Wells


Alexis Benskin
Vivian Brown
Abigail Charleston
Hannah Fridgen
Chelsie Helmick
Megan Henry
Cassidy Kamradt
Rachael King
Hallie Lutz
Peyton Miller
Jana Ping
Rakesh Sharma
Jillian Stadel
Erin Stevens
Chayton Townsend
Kristina Trame
Mikayla Wetherell

Did you graduate from college with an undergraduate or advance degree in December?
Tell us about it!

If you were on this semester's Dean's List and your name were omitted from our list above please know it was not intentional. University communications and public affair offices typically provide or make available lists of fall and spring graduates by zip code. Quite often students living off-campus supply their school address in the city they live while attending school as their contact address instead of their hometown address. If you supplied the institution with a different home address, and would like to have your name added to the list hometowns we cover above, email us your information to

Journalism scholarships available for students, application due Feb. 22

by Adriana Gallardo, Ash Ngu and Mollie Simon


We are proud to announce our sixth annual scholarship program. This year we are teaming up with The Pudding, a visual essays online publication.

ProPublica, with additional support from The Pudding, will be sponsoring need-based scholarships for 25 students to attend an eligible journalism conference in 2021 and/or to contribute toward journalism related expenses such as subscriptions to news publications, software, FOIA fees, or equipment (think cameras, recorders, etc.).

Anyone who is a permanent U.S. resident is eligible to apply. We especially encourage students from an underrepresented group in journalism — including people of color, women, LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities — to apply.

The $750 scholarships will go to students who would otherwise be unable to attend conferences or purchase supplies to support their education and ongoing reporting.

The following conferences offer great opportunities for networking and professional development, especially for those just starting out in journalism. Scholarship recipients will also have the opportunity to meet ProPublica and The Pudding staff throughout the year at conferences (virtual or in person). Check out last year’s scholarship recipients.

You can apply for the scholarship here. The deadline is Feb. 22. Students have the option to select a conference as part of their application. We understand many have yet to announce dates and that formats may change, but we would still like to know which you are interested in attending.

  • AAJA, Asian American Journalists Association. Location and dates TDB.
  • AHCJ, Association of Health Care Journalists. Austin, Texas, June 24-27.
  • IRE, Investigative Reporters and Editors. Indianapolis, June 17-20.
  • JAWS, Journalism and Women Symposium. New Mexico, Sept. 24-26.
  • NABJ National Association of Black Journalists. Houston, Aug. 18-22.
  • NAHJ National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Virtual, July (exact date TBD).
  • NAJA, Native American Journalists Association. Phoenix, Sept. 15-19.
  • NICAR, The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting. Virtual, March 3-5.
  • NLGJA, Association of LGBTQ Journalists. Location and dates TBD.
  • NPPA, National Press Photographers Association (Northern Short Course). Location and dates TBD.
  • ONA, Online News Association. Location and dates TBD.
  • SND, Society for News Design. Location and dates TBD.
  • SRCCON, organized by OpenNews. Location and dates TBD.

Every year, we share what ProPublica is doing to increase the diversity of our newsroom and of journalism as a whole. These scholarships are a small but important step to help student journalists from underrepresented communities take advantage of everything these conferences offer.

High school, college and graduate students are welcome to apply. You must be a student at the time of application, but it’s OK if you’re graduating this spring.

Questions about the application process? Want to contribute to our scholarship fund to send more students to these conferences? Get in touch at

This story was originally published by ProPublica on January 20, 2021. ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

Photo of the day - January 24, 2021

Cord Shaffer throws the discus at a track meet in Tolono

Shaffer medals twice

St. Joseph-Ogden's Cord Shaffer heaves the discus at the Unity Track Invitational on Friday, April 20, 2007. Shaffer finished third in the event and first in the shot put at the Rockets' annual track & field meet.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Illinois' sin taxes are some of the highest in country

by Joe Barnas, Writer
Illinois Policy

Many New Year’s resolutions may include kicking bad habits, but even when the government tries to curb smoking, drinking and caloric intake by imposing one of the heaviest tax burdens it’s still a matter of personal choice.

Excise taxes have failed to improve Illinoisans’ health while creating an undue burden for those with the least. But lawmakers have yet to kick the habit.

If Illinoisans’ celebratory excess this holiday season is to be followed by resolution to be better next year, maybe politicians, too, need to end the bender and cut back their penchant for excise taxes.

A 2019 study from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation found Illinois captured the sixth-highest amount per capita in excise taxes during fiscal year 2016.

Excise taxes are a “tax on a specific good or activity” and include “sin taxes” such as those on alcohol, tobacco, gambling and marijuana.

In fiscal year 2016, Illinois collected an average of $788 from every person in state and local excise taxes, according to the Tax Foundation. This exceeded each of Illinois’ neighbors by at least $100 per person.

Illinois’ myriad excise taxes are compounded by those imposed by municipalities at the local level. Chicago, for example, recently levied a 9% “amusement tax” on concerts and sporting events – which it expanded to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.

Illinois has seen many new and increased taxes since the study, including new taxes on recreational marijuana, legal sports betting, parking garages, as well as a doubled gas tax, increased tax on e-cigarettes, a new $1 per pack fee on cigarettes, a progressive tax on gambling proceeds – and that’s at the state level alone.

Politicians use sin taxes to generate quick tax revenue while looking to curb behavior advocates deem undesirable. But those objectives are at odds with each other: If a sin tax successfully discourages residents from purchasing the item it’s been applied to, tax revenues from those products and services are expected to decline.

Meanwhile, researchers at the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution’s Tax Policy Center found that, despite Illinois’ statewide alcohol tax hikes in 1999 and 2009, the increases had no significant impact on drunk driving fatalities.

Sin taxes are also some of the least reliable revenue sources. Tax Foundation research from 2017 showed inflation-adjusted net collections from cigarette taxes demonstrate a pattern of brief revenue spikes immediately after an increase, followed by significant long-term dips. Tobacco use has steadily and significantly declined since the 1960s, so cigarette sin taxes are extremely unreliable as a revenue source. Data from the Illinois Department of Revenue shows the Prairie State’s 2012 cigarette tax hike fell more than $120 million short of projections.

In another example, promises of new revenue fell short after Illinois legalized video poker and slots in 2009 – slapping it with a tax to help fund a $31 billion infrastructure spending program. State lawmakers projected state revenues to reach $1 billion by November 2013. In reality, the state brought in less than $70 million by then. Five years later, total state revenues were supposed to rise to $2.5 billion, but state coffers only saw $1.4 billion by November 2018.

Excise taxes are also largely regressive. While well-to-do residents may not need to tighten their belts to afford high excise taxes, low-income consumers suffer most under them.

Plus, Illinois’ exorbitant alcohol and cigarette taxes will surely move border-town residents this New Year’s to cross over to neighboring states for friendlier prices. According to at least one estimate, Illinois loses up to $30 million annually on cross-border alcohol sales.

Soda taxes have proven the regressive nature of sin taxes, according to the Tax Foundation – but that didn’t stop Cook County from imposing its own highly unpopular soda tax, while exaggerating its potential public health benefits. The tax was eventually repealed following backlash.

Not only has taxing Illinoisans’ appetites failed to rescue the state from its fiscal plunge, it’s also hurt those with the least.

This new year, Springfield lawmakers should look to real pension reform instead of regressive tax hikes to fix the state’s financial problems. Illinoisans should be left to fix their bad habits at their own discretion.

Joe Barnas is a writer at the Illinois Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization that promotes responsible government and free market principles. Originally published December 23, 2020.

Sentinel Article Archive

Feb 25, 2024  .::. 
Glenbard North's Gomez wins third state title
Feb 25, 2024  .::. 
Commentary |
With BeyoncĂ©’s foray into country music, the genre may finally break free from the stereotypes that has dogged it

Feb 25, 2024  .::. 
Florida defies CDC advice telling parents it's okay to send unvaccinated kids to school during recent outbreak
Feb 21, 2024  .::. 
Commentary |
Hey Taylor; love the music, but please park that private jet

Feb 23, 2024  .::. 
Carnivore diet challenges norms, reveals health transformations
Feb 21, 2024  .::. 
Commentary |
No way having a baby should cause a financial catastrophe

Editorial |
Green light to attack NATO

Top Articles This Month