Voters will decide whether to change Illinois’ income-tax structure after the House approved a constitutional amendment on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s graduated tax proposal.
The House voted 73-44 Monday to put the question on the November 2020 ballot. It needed 71 votes. Republican state Reps. Dan Brady, Keith Sommer, and Dan Caulkins, who each represent parts of McLean County, all voted against the measure.
Voter approval would mean eliminating the current flat-rate tax of 4.95%. Pritzker, a first-term Democrat, intends that a progressive structure would increase taxes on incomes higher than $250,000. Pritzker says 97% of taxpayers would pay no increase in taxes.
The amendment does not specify what rates would apply to income levels. That must come in separate legislation.
It’s official: the Fair Tax will be on the ballot in November 2020. Today’s vote is a giant leap forward for the middle class and those striving to get there.
— Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) May 27, 2019
State Rep. Robert Martwick, a Democrat from Chicago, said this change is what Illinois needs to begin digging out of its deep financial hole.
“This is an opportunity to fix the problems of Illinois, and begin re-establishing the services government is supposed to deliver," Martwick said.
House Republican Opposition
But minority House Republicans complained that the proposal amounts to a tax hike and allow runaway Democratic spending.
Brady, a Bloomington-Normal Republican, said history has shown "the General Assembly cannot manage its finances."
"Why would you throw more tax dollars at the problem without any reforms? Without any structural changes?" Brady said Monday. "To me that's like tasting sour milk in your refridgerator, putting it back in, and hoping it's gonna taste better the next day you take it out. It won't."
Sommer, a Morton Republican, said he's worried a graduated income tax will drive jobs and college graduates out of Illinois.
"Let's work together to grow jobs, and not grow taxes," Sommer said on the House floor.
Also Monday Pritzker and lawmakers announced the creation of the Property Tax Relief Task Force, designed to make recommendations that would give homeowners across the state property tax relief. The group would be required to report back to the governor and the General Assembly by Dec. 31, 2019.
“For far too long, families across Illinois have struggled under too-high property tax burdens and an unfair income tax system that protects the wealthiest,” Pritzker said. “This task force is a commonsense addition to the fair tax, which aims to protect the middle class and those striving to get there while those making $250,000 and above pay more.”
The Senate approved the amendment May 1.
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