Prairie State Wire

Prairie State Wire

Monday, December 9, 2019

Pritzker pushes lawmakers to pass 'fair tax,' says critics are 'defending an unfair status quo'

State Government

By Kyla Asbury | Apr 13, 2019

Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Gov. J.B. Pritzker continues to urge lawmakers to pass legislation allowing Illinoisans to vote on a graduated income tax instead of the current flat-tax structure.

At a recent press conference outside the governor's office in Springfield, Pritzker said that after more than a decade of working to bring a fair tax to Illinois, legislators are finally in a position to take the next step.

"We’ve proposed tax rates, begun negotiations and created a calculator to show citizens how this will impact them," Pritzker said. "In the coming weeks we will continue to have discussions as we move forward."

State Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville)

Pritzker said the legislation filed will give voters a choice to amend the state constitution and remove the requirement for all citizens paying the same rate.

"This will allow us to adopt a system fair to the middle class," Pritzker said. "It's not fair that I pay the same rate as a teacher or a first-responder. I want to be clear, this administration welcomes debate and negotiation. I look forward to continuing conversations."

Critics of the legislation argue that the graduated income tax would drive people and businesses out of Illinois. Republicans have been vocal that the state is already unattractive to job creators and small businesses. 

House Republicans even sponsored a resolution last month opposing the graduated income tax.

"A graduated income tax is the wrong thing for Illinois," Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) said at a press conference in March. "It is human nature for us to look forward with optimism — that there are better days ahead. A graduated income tax dampens that."

To which Pritzker counters that those who oppose the plan are misguided at best, self-serving at worst.

"[Critics are] defending an unfair status quo that benefits the [state's] wealthiest," the governor said at his press conference.

State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) will sponsor the legislation in the Senate, while Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) will sponsor the legislation in the House.

Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 1 states that a tax on income shall be measured at a non-graduated rate and that there may be one tax on the income of individuals and corporations. It also provides that the income tax may be "a fair tax where lower rates apply to lower income levels and higher rates apply to higher income levels."

"The Senate stands ready to move," Harmon said. "We will begin the process this week to read the amendment and pass it as soon as we can."

Zalewski said the House also stands ready to work.

"This brings relief to 97 percent of the state," Zalewski said. "The last four years have shown the current system does not work for anybody. I look forward to enacting a fair tax in Illinois."

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