Biss Pushes For Graduated Income Tax | WGLT

Biss Pushes For Graduated Income Tax

Oct 24, 2016

Sate Senator Daniel Biss at the Bud Billiken Parade in 2015
Credit Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr/Creative Commons

The budget standoff in Illinois may be contributing to the same voter anger that gave rise to Donald Trump's campaign.

That's according to State Senator Daniel Biss, an Evanston Democrat.

"If people see government as hopeless, if people see government as unable, or worse, unwilling to solve problems, they get attracted to the most nihilistic, reductionist, simplistic alternative," said Biss.

Biss is a former mathematics professor with degrees from Harvard and MIT. He represents the 9th District in the Illinois State Senate. He said during a stop in Normal that Democrats and Republicans alike bear responsibility for lack of a budget.

Biss favors a state constitutional amendment to allow a progressive income tax in the state as part of the solution. Biss said a flat tax is bad for the state, indexed tax rates would be better.

"We are one of only four states in the union whose constitution mandates a flat income tax. That is an unusual situation to be in. Democrats and Republicans across the country agree that it's fair to ask people who make a little bit more money to pay a little money so as to not harm middle class families with your tax code," said Biss.

Biss said for such an amendment to pass, lawmakers would have to approve contingent legislation sharply reducing property taxes.

Biss’s name also comes up as a potential candidate for Governor, though he says such talk is premature.
Biss is also becoming known for skillful use of social media. For instance, a video Biss created for the Road Back Coalition to address the state pension problem involves him juggling flaming batons as he talks about the 140 billion dollar pension deficit and saying the state is playing with fire. He blows out the flames on each of three batons as he describes three facets of a plan to remedy the state's gloomy financial situation.

In this interview with GLT's Charlie Schlenker, Senator Biss lays out his view of when social media is effective, ineffective, and how to do it well.