This week, the majority party in the Illinois Senate advanced out of committee a proposed graduated income tax that provides no protections for middle-income families and would give those lawmakers the ability to raise taxes in the future.
The measure, Senate Joint Constitutional Amendment (SJRCA) 1, would place a referendum on the 2020 General Election ballot asking voters if they support moving Illinois from a flat tax to a graduated tax structure.
Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady, who like his Senate Republican colleagues opposes a graduated income tax, noted that the crafters of Illinois’ current constitution chose a flat tax, which the people of Illinois embraced, because the flat tax provided middle-income families better protections from politicians.
And while the measure advancing in the Senate deals with putting the question on the ballot, there is no legislation showing what future tax rates would be if it’s adopted.
In March, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced his proposed rates; however, Pritzker’s rates are yet to be introduced in legislative form. Testifying before the Senate Executive Committee, when asked for a commitment the administration wouldn’t seek to raise income tax rates down the road, Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes was unable to give middle-income taxpayers any assurance that these rates would remain level in coming years.
In hopes of providing some protections for Illinois families, Senate Republican lawmakers have offered SJRCA 12 to require a two-thirds super-majority vote in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly to increase any tax or fee. Currently, legislators only need a simple majority to pass a tax increase or to implement a new tax.
Despite having declared “let the people vote” on the graduated income tax, when asked during a press conference this week if he would support the Senate Republican’s amendment to protect middle-income families from future tax increases, Gov. Pritzker said “…the future is unknown, and so you want to make sure they have the options are available in this constitution.”
Senate Republicans are also calling on the Administration to let the people have their voice heard on other important issues, such as term limits, pension reform and fair maps.