SPRINGFIELD – Along party lines, the Illinois Senate voted this week to take the next step towards moving away from the state's flat tax towards a tax rate that increases as income grows.
There's really been little discussion about why House Speaker Mike Madigan believes the system should change when he led the state's constitutional convention in 1970 that confirmed the flat tax.
But, his spokesman says, Madigan will allow SJRCA 1 – the new Democrat Governor JB Pritzker's top priority – before the Illinois House "as events warrant." With a super majority of Democrats in the Illinois House, it is fairly certain Democrats can set the idea before Illinois voters in the 2020 General Election with no help from Republican House members.
Tax hike opponents, however, are organizing opposition to the plan. There's too little information on where the Dems plan to take this effort – and how much it will end up costing all Illinois taxpayers.
"There is absolutely no guarantee that these rates will not be modified and lowered many times to give the state more money to spend," said Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch.
"The rates have already been increased in the few weeks since they were initially proposed by the governor's office. We believe rates will continue to inch up, and thresholds will continue to inch down, because there simply is not enough money in these proposed brackets to fix our financial problems and keep spending. This attempt to tax Illinois out of our fiscal crisis will not be successful."
One statewide manufacturing group expressed opposition, as well.
“The new tax rates proposed by Senate Democrats are higher than originally promised by Gov. JB Pritzker and apply to thousands of additional Illinois families and businesses,” said Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.
“This vote is yet another sign that Illinois politicians are more concerned with increased spending rather than meaningful solutions to curtail costs, address growing property taxes, tackle ballooning pension debt and adopt reforms that make it easier for businesses to create jobs. If enacted, Illinois will have the dubious distinction of having the highest sales tax rate in the nation, the second highest property taxes, and the third highest income tax rate.”
The Illinois Republican Party chimed in … saying it's all about giving the Democrats a blank check to raise taxes.
"Today's vote from Senate Democrats empowers J.B. Pritzker, Mike Madigan, and the Democrats in power to raise taxes and spend more instead of passing the economic reforms our state desperately needs," IL GOP Chairman Tim Schneider said in a statement.
"Giving politicians like Pritzker and Madigan a blank check to raise taxes will only make our state's problems worse. Higher taxes, more borrowing, and increased spending – that is all Illinois Democrats have to offer, and taxpayers can’t afford it. They refuse to change, and we will make sure voters hold them accountable for it."
House Republicans used the bill's passage to their chamber as an opportunity to poke Pritzker's reported investigation for allegedly manipulating the property tax assessment of the mansion next door to lower the Pritzkers' property tax bill.