Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker
Democrats have proved relentless in their dogged push to get Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed progressive income tax amendment to the finish line.
“House Democrats skirted basic transparency measures in moving one of the most important taxpayer bills of the year on May 24,” Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) opined only hours before the measure passed the House in a 73-44 party-line vote, putting it on the 2020 general election ballot as a referendum question for voters.
Prior to Monday’s full House vote, the Illinois House Revenue & Finance Committee voted, again along party-lines, to advance the legislation. Senate Bill 687 had passed that chamber of the legislature earlier in the month, with supporters boasting that it stands to raise an estimated $3.3 billion by simply scrapping the current flat tax system for one that allows additional taxes to be slapped on the state’s most affluent residents.
Illinois state Rep. Margo McDermed (R-Frankfort) | repmcdermed.com
Almost from the start, IPI reports the process has left something to be desired.
“The committee abused procedural rules meant to ensure deliberation and public notice, which led to the bill’s passage in near-secrecy,” the organization posted on its website. “While some members of the media and advocacy groups were in attendance at the committee hearing, members of the general public had no opportunity to voice their opinion on the measure in the days leading up to its passage. The bill was never posted publicly for the May 24 hearing.”
Republican state representative and finance committee member Margo McDermed (Frankfort) has been among the loudest dissenters. She took great exception with only being allowed to ask a limited number of questions and noticed that regular citizens were even denied the opportunity to post witness slips reflecting their feelings on the proposed tax rates.
In short, residents of the state were shut out from having their voices heard on the issue.
“We as a caucus were not told, our staff was not told, that this was going to be heard this morning,” McDermed argued from the House floor. “What does this say about your confidence in this policy – in this measure – when the only way that you can get it through to the floor of this House is by engaging in legislative tricks and shout down people on the other side?”
Meanwhile, Democratic state Rep. Yehiel Kalish (Chicago) has already gone on record with his view that the proposed income tax rates should be higher.
“I want to be on record saying that I don’t think we go high enough,” he said.
Critics of the plan have already been quick to point out the tax rates proposed by Pritzker differ from those endorsed by the House and Senate. IPI reports that Pritzker’s proposal calls for a 7.95-percent flat rate on the highest income bracket, while the plan endorsed by the General Assembly pushes for a 7.99-percent flat rate on the highest income bracket.