House passes Madigan’s progressive tax resolution

House passes Madigan’s progressive tax resolution

A majority of House lawmakers sided with the speaker over tapped-out taxpayers.

Many Illinoisans shoulder an overall tax burden that stands among the highest in the nation. But one might not know that based on the preoccupations of many lawmakers in Springfield.

As budget negotiations enter the 11th hour, a majority of state lawmakers in the Illinois House of Representatives voted May 29 to pass House Resolution 1025, filed by House Speaker Mike Madigan, declaring their endorsement of a progressive income tax.

While nonbinding, the resolution puts on record the conviction among some House members to scrap the state’s constitutionally protected flat tax and replace it with a graduated, or progressive, income tax system. The resolution passed by a margin of 61-52.

HR 1025 states that lawmakers “stand united in support of a fair and progressive income tax that must reduce taxes on low and middle-income families while raising taxes on the wealthiest Illinoisans.”

But at least one progressive tax proposal currently in the General Assembly contradicts the promise of tax reductions for low- and middle-income families. Under Chicago Democratic State Rep. Robert Martwick’s House Bill 3522, also known as the FRIENDLY Act, Illinoisans earning as little as $17,300 a year would see their income tax bill go up.

Having endured a record income tax increase in 2017, Illinoisans are privy to the tax hikes to which they’d be exposed under a progressive tax structure. Indeed, a plurality of Illinois voters have voiced their rejection of such a tax, stating they’d be less likely to support a candidate running for public office in their district if he or she voted in favor of a progressive income tax. More than 90 local government leaders across the state have pledged to oppose Madigan’s progressive tax push.

There are reforms, however, that lawmakers could pursue to deliver relief to lower- and middle-class families. Foremost among them would be a smart spending cap that anchors the growth of state spending to growth in the state economy. By keeping spending in line with what taxpayers can afford, taxpayers would be protected from the threat of future tax hikes.

On the other hand, by eliminating Illinois’ current flat income tax structure, lawmakers would strip away one of the last safeguards taxpayers have against perpetual tax hikes in Illinois.

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