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WGLT's reporting on the November 2020 election cycle.

McLean County Voters Reject Graduated Income Tax Proposal

Jerry Nowicki
Capitol News Illinois
A voter pamphlet distributed to Illinois households by Secretary of State Jesse White's office regarding the graduated income tax constitutional amendment.

UPDATED 9:15 a.m. | McLean County voters didn't want to switch to a graduated income tax — and neither did voters statewide.

About 60% of McLean County voters (including those in Bloomington) said "no" to the proposal to change the state’s income-tax structure from a flat-rate system to one that takes more from wealthier residents. Statewide, 55% of voters rejected the idea with almost all precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press.

The measure needed 60% of the vote to pass. If it failed to reach the 60% threshold for those voting on the question, but still mustered “yes” votes from more than half of those voting, it would still pass. Due to outstanding mail ballots and the multiple paths to passage, results could take weeks to certify.

Opponents of the proposal claimed victory Tuesday night.

"When all the votes are counted, we believe there will be more 'no' votes than 'yes' votes, and that will be a win for small business owners, middle-class families, family farmers, retirees, and large employers,” Lissa Druss, spokesperson for the Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Hike Amendment, said in a statement. “In this election, Illinois voters sent a resounding message that with an $8 billion deficit and two massive tax hikes in the last 10 years, we cannot trust Springfield politicians with another tax hike.”

Supporters of the graduated income tax conceded defeat Wednesday morning.

“We are undoubtedly disappointed with this result but are proud of the millions of Illinoisans who cast their ballots in support of tax fairness in this election," Vote Yes For Fairness chair Quentin Fulks said in a statement. "Illinois is in a massive budget crisis due to years of a tax system that has protected millionaires and billionaires at the expense of our working families, a crisis that was only made worse by the Coronavirus pandemic. Republican legislators and their billionaire allies who brought us the dysfunction and pain of the Rauner years continue to stand in the way of common sense solutions, choosing instead to play partisan games and deceive the working families of our state. Now lawmakers must address a multibillion dollar budget gap without the ability to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share. Fair Tax opponents must answer for whatever comes next.”

The switch would have given Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker and lawmakers a roadmap to paying down the state's billions of dollars in debt.

The question on the ballot would have amended the Illinois Constitution, which requires that income be taxed at a flat rate. It's currently at 4.95% for individual payers. Pritzker campaigned on switching to a graduated rate, contending he could raise $3 billion extra a year while not imposing higher taxes on 97% of taxpayers.

Capitol News Illinois and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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