Carroll stands up for Illinois taxpayers, opposes progressive income tax hike

Carroll stands up for Illinois taxpayers, opposes progressive income tax hike

Lawmakers should follow state Rep. Jonathan Carroll’s example by demonstrating the political courage to reject a proposed $3.4 billion tax hike.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is pressuring state lawmakers to scrap Illinois’ flat income tax protection. But average Illinois taxpayers – and their elected officials – are increasingly speaking out against Pritzker’s progressive income tax plan. 

State Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook, is the latest member of the Illinois House of Representatives to publicly oppose the progressive income tax. “I am a no on this plan and changing the constitution. I’m not opposed to modernizing how we tax in Illinois, but this has to be done right,” Carroll said in a statement, according to NBC Chicago reporter Mary Ann Ahern. “The current proposals don’t address our oppressive property tax issues.”

“When we present a strong and a thorough plan to the Illinois voters, I’ll be supportive,” he said. “Punishing people for being successful is very shortsighted.”

Carroll is correct to point out a key flaw in Pritzker’s progressive income tax plan: It fails to address Illinoisans’ crushing property tax burden. State Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Grayslake, who has also come out against Pritzker’s progressive income tax hike, also pointed to the inadequate property tax “freeze” on offer in Springfield.

While Illinoisans pay the second-highest property taxes in the nation, the governor’s plan for a progressive state income tax does nothing to address some of the biggest cost drivers for both state and local governments: pensions and government worker health insurance. Without reforms to those costs, property taxes are likely to continue rising and Illinoisans will see little to no tax relief from Pritzker’s plan.

Illinois property taxes

While middle-class tax relief was Pritzker’s central promise in campaigning for what he has dubbed the “fair tax,” the governor recently abandoned that promise. “As you know, we currently live in a system in which the taxes can be changed at any moment so there’s certainly no guarantees,” Pritzker said in an April 23 interview with ABC 7, when asked about including protections against middle-class tax hikes. “But what I will tell you is that I am fighting for the plan that I put forward.”

Pritzker first invited skepticism of his “fair tax” plan when he unveiled his proposed rates March 7. While the governor’s team boasted $3.4 billion in projected revenue, neither Illinois Policy Institute nor Civic Federation analyses have been able to replicate that estimate.

On May 1, the Illinois Senate passed a proposed amendment that would allow lawmakers to scrap Illinois’ flat tax protection and pass additional income taxes on the same dollar earned. The amendment was also packaged with proposed tax rates that differed slightly from Pritzker’s initial proposal, allowing for the nation’s highest tax on business income.

Notably, Democrat state Sens. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield; Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park; and Suzy Glowiak, D-Western Springs, each voted against the companion bill that included the new rates. In fact, by Senate Democrats’ own numbers, the proposal would fall $175 million short of Pritzker’s goal of closing the state’s $3.2 billion anticipated budget shortfall.

But this doesn’t even account Pritzker’s ambitious spending promises, which would require the typical Illinois family ultimately pay up to $3,500 more in income taxes.

The reality is that scrapping Illinois’ flat income tax protection would be a bridge to tax hikes on the middle class.

Unfortunately, the governor claims there only two ways for Illinois to climb out if its fiscal hole: massive tax hikes or slashing core government services such as education, public safety and social services. That’s not true. State leaders must pursue structural spending reforms to protect Illinoisans from both austere service cuts and punishing tax hikes.

Illinois House lawmakers should follow Carroll’s example and muster the courage to reject a reckless tax proposal that would worsen Illinoisans’ tax burden while leaving the state’s most pressing fiscal problems unaddressed.

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