16 GOP lawmakers argue against progressive income tax in Illinois
Sixteen Republican state representatives stood to oppose the notion of a progressive income tax.
And it is not the first time.
House Minority Leader Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) was more upset May 29 than he was six weeks ago when rumor had it HR1025 -- which supports the implementation of a progressive income tax -- was coming down the pike. Rather than blast the proposal of a progressive tax, Durkin asked House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) where HR975, a bill directly opposing a progressive income tax, was.
She replied that it remained in the Rules Committee, and Durkin asked for the name of that committee's chairperson. When finding out the measure remained there for almost two months under Currie's leadership, Durkin did not hold back.
“I have 49 co-sponsors, who are Republicans, who signed their name to this bill,” Durkin said before asking why she has not released the bill from the committee to the floor for debate.
Currie avoided his question, asking him why they do not focus their attention on the bill before them that would provide for fair tax structure statewide. She said the passing of a graduated tax, which has been adopted in 33 states, is important because the current tax structure is costing low-income residents their paychecks.
“In those states that have progressive graduated rates, the burden is very much different,” Currie said.
Durkin wanted to know what the rates would be in the progressive tax. Again, Currie did not answer. Durkin said it is impossible to vote on a resolution without knowing exactly how the rates would affect the taxes. With no number given, Durkin made it clear he wanted HR975 to have the same rights as HR1025.
“I am asking you as the Republican leader that you, the deputy leader of the rules committee, to at least oblige me and my party and release that from rules,” Durkin said.
Requesting a roll call on the vote verification, Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) said the resolution is a matter of faith.
“If the people of Illinois didn’t distrust us already, why in the world would they hand us the power to raise their taxes to levels previously unseen or unheard of in the history of this state,” Breen said.
Breen said to forgive him when he does not trust an Illinois politician who says "I am going to raise your taxes, but it is not going to be that bad."
“This is one of the worst, most ill-considered and most unwanted resolutions for the people of this state," he said.
Rather than call the legislation by a number, Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) gave it a new name. “This should be called the job destruction resolution of this General Assembly,” he said. “Stop the madness, vote no.”
Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego), lifting up the calculator all GOP members were given by Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago), said he had to go buy another calculator that would work.
“One that has enough zeros to show how much debt we have,” Wheeler said, adding if a progressive tax is passed, it will raise rates on 77 percent of Illinois taxpayers.
Rep. Steven Reick (R-Woodstock) said he would try to make his opinion understandable to the other side of the aisle the best he could while explaining that the bulk of the money in the state is in the middle, and a progressive tax system will not be able to equal out the debt
“The one thing Illinois does right is a flat tax,” Reick said before pointing out the General Assembly is three days away from adjournment. “We should have had a budget three months ago.”
Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) also used his calculator to prove his point when comparing states that use the progressive tax rate. He said North Carolina, which switched from a progressive to flat tax, has seen some of the lowest property taxes and enjoys a $1.8 billion rainy day fund, whereas California, which has a progressive tax, is one of the richest states with the most resources, but a third of its population lives in poverty.
While Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee) said Currie’s proposal was simply a gimmick, Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) assumed the proposed tax was put forth since Democrats believe there is not enough revenue in the budget to cover current costs.
“Rep. Skillicorn was the man who made the best comments so far, this is all just a scam,” Ives said.
Rep. Chad Hays' (R-Catlin) words were not so proper when telling the floor the type of socks he wore that day to deal with the progressive tax proposal.
“Today, gratuitously I wore my I-call-bulls--- socks,” Hays said.
Rep. Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) used Facebook to find out how residents felt about another possible tax increase and encouraged floor members to take a look at her social media.
“They said they are either out of here or are going to be out of here,” Jesiel said.
Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville) returned the debate to Currie not including the assumed rates in her proposal.
“I don’t think that is my job, and I don’t think that is your job,” Currie countered, adding the whole point of her resolution, regardless of rates, is to create a fair tax structure in the state.
After Davidsmeyer said the resolution was full of fairy tales, Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) said a realistic plan is needed as soon as possible, especially since lawmakers wanted to spend $4 billion more than they had in the previous session.
“Luckily we killed those things and the did not become law,” he said.
Rep. David Olsen (R-Downers Grove) said Illinois should be the envy of the nation, but instead a progressive tax is being proposed that does not encourage citizens and business to stay in the state.
Rep. Patricia Bellock (R-Hinsdale) brought up HR975 and reminded Currie of her promise to Durkin.
“We had a major tax increase in 2011, we had another major tax increase in 2017, and this is a major tax increase on a certain group of people,” Bellock said, adding Illinois is the No. 1 state for out-migration in the country.
“We have the second highest property taxes than any other state and we have the most overall tax burden state of any state,” Bellock added.
Rep. Nick Sauer (R-Lake Barrington) said tax reform, not with a progressive rate, is needed now because out-migration is out of control.
“They are going to go to Florida," Sauer said. "We are seeing it. They are going to go to Arizona, Colorado and Texas where their wagon train is even and equitable."
Concluding the almost hourlong debate, Rep. Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) and Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) pleaded for the progressive tax to not pass through the House by providing stats and facts.
“The average person in my district would pay more than a $1,000 under this progressive tax,” McDermed said. “Don’t be fooled -- this is a bad resolution.”
Bryant said Illinois sits on prosperous oil reserves that could help alleviate the tax burden, but they remain untouched.
However, the GOP lawmakers' arguments were to no avail. HR1025 passed 61-52 and moved to the Senate.