Gov. J.B. Pritzker is going all in on the progressive income tax to solve Illinois’ financial woes.
Raising taxes is his Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. In his mind, there are no other options. Not once this session has there even been a hint of reducing spending. In fact, it has been the opposite, spending has continued to increase. It is all about raising taxes and little by little, the Governor and his allies in the House and the Senate are getting what they want.
The Illinois Senate approved Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 1 without really putting up much of a fight and it is now being considered in the House. SJRCA 1 needs 71 votes or more to pass the Illinois House of Representatives.
It is not a done deal that the progressive income tax question will pass the Illinois House. Not a single Republican supports the progressive income tax and if just four Democrats vote “no,” SJRCA won’t pass.
But even if the progressive income tax Constitutional Amendment passes the House, it will be the voters who will have the final say in the 2020 election. Amending the Constitution will require approval by 60% of the popular vote.
Governor Pritzker is not taking any chances. He is aggressively trying to sell the progressive income tax to voters. He is billing his proposal as a tax cut for the majority of taxpayers, but the truth is the tax rates can change at any time as SJRCA 1 does not include the Governor’s proposed tax rates. Any commitments about what the rates will be are just empty promises. We are NOT voting on tax rates-they will not be on the ballot. What we are voting on is whether or not we think it is a good idea to give Springfield politicians even more power to indiscriminately raise or lower taxes on any segment of the population with only a majority vote in the legislature. Do you TRUST politicians to do what they say they are going to in a tough situation? This is a political power grab.
Without a doubt, going to a progressive income tax structure in Illinois will make it easier for Springfield politicians to raise taxes. We are burdened with hundreds of billions of dollars in public pension debt, a three billion plus dollar hole in the budget and over nine billion dollars of unpaid bills. There is no talk of any significant reforms to deal with these issues. If we give irresponsible politicians this power then what are the chances that they come back in a year or two and tell us that we are in a crisis and we are going to be forced to raise taxes across the board? That is the end game.
With a progressive income tax, lawmakers can divide and conquer. They can focus on one tax bracket at time which means only certain income earners will see a tax increase. With the current flat tax rate in Illinois, raising the income tax rate means all income earners see their taxes go up. It is much easier to raise taxes on one group of taxpayers than it is to raise taxes on every single taxpayer.
To see where this is headed, all we have to do is look at what has happened in other states that have a progressive income tax. Of the 32 states with a graduated income tax structure, 18 of them tax middle-class families at the highest rate.
Does anyone believe the same legislature that just raised the income tax by 32 percent will exercise restraint when it comes to setting the tax rates for the implementation of a progressive income tax?
I certainly don’t.
The reality is our taxes keep going up and yet our financial crisis continues to get worse. Illinois has the third worst funded pension system in the nation despite having the highest combination of state and local taxes. We should be working around the clock to restore fiscal responsibility in Springfield. Raising taxes won’t solve the state’s financial problems.
We need structural reforms to reduce spending and balance the budget. We need flexibility to deal with the pension crisis that is crushing our budget and crowding out core services. We need a spending cap that ties the growth of government to a rolling average of economic growth ensuring that the permanent political class can never put us in this situation again. Hardworking families can’t outspend their incomes. Why should we allow this irresponsible behavior from our government?
There is still time to fix our budget woes, but we must completely reject the failed policies of the past. We cannot tax our way to prosperity. I went to Springfield with a message of fiscal responsibility and limiting the power of the career political class. Policies like this do just the opposite. What we need in Illinois is real reform – not more taxes.