Pritzker progressive tax campaign wastes over $200K on ads in California, Texas

Pritzker progressive tax campaign wastes over $200K on ads in California, Texas

Pushing a $3.7 billion tax hike to people who can’t vote in Illinois is an unusual way to spend some of Pritzker’s $56.5 million donation.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s progressive income tax campaign spent thousands promoting Facebook ads for the amendment outside Illinois, according to data from Facebook.

The Vote Yes for Fairness campaign spent between $225,000 and $275,000 on two of their top three most-viewed ads and most of the viewers were not in Illinois. Both ads were viewed most in California and Texas. Just 3% of the ads’ interactions were in Illinois.

Most people who viewed these five-second spots will not be voting on the progressive income tax amendment or care what Illinois voters decide. Why Pritzker’s team spent their ad dollars pushing a tax hike outside Illinois remains a question, but Texas and California were the top destinations for those moving out of Illinois – with high taxes the top motivation of those considering a move.

Pritzker has donated $56.5 million from his own pocket to Vote Yes for Fairness to push Illinois voters, and apparently voters around the country, to support the progressive income tax amendment. The Illinois governor has nearly funded the advertising push by himself.

The ads tout savings for 97% of Illinois’ taxpayers. However, voters are not voting on tax rates. A progressive tax wouldn’t even bring in as much as Pritzker says it will or needs to balance the budget, according to an Illinois Policy Institute analysis. S&P Global Ratings on Sept. 21 made it clear that Illinois faces a 5% budget gap even if the progressive tax were to pass. If voters approve the amendment, lawmakers with a simple majority vote could change those rates the next day to generate more money.

Pritzker’s push for the taxing power has grown desperate: Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton threatened voters with a 20% tax increase if they fail to pass the progressive income tax amendment. Pritzker just threatened a 15% cut in state government, especially education funding.

As the Chicago Tribune editorial board said, their threats show desperation as voters begin to realize what their “fair tax” really represents: “Not just a tax increase on the super-rich but a scheme of graduated rates that politicians likely will exploit – just as soon as they can – to soak middle-class taxpayers, too.”

Illinois’ tax history is filled with false promises and shows lawmakers simply cannot be trusted to responsibly spend tax dollars. State income tax hikes in 2011 and again in 2017 did not fix state finances, but rather gave state leaders more money to spend as budgets hit record amounts and have remained unbalanced for 20 consecutive years. High Illinois taxes are the top reasons given for people wanting to leave Illinois, which during the past decade has seen the nation’s worst population decline driven by those in their prime working years.

Pritzker is now asking for the ability to tax different groups different amounts as state lawmakers see fit, and with a simple majority vote. His administration already signaled interest in taxing retirement income, as every progressive income tax state already does.

Maybe Pritzker’s team will persuade California and Texas voters to support the “fair tax,” but Illinoisans faced with $3.7 billion in tax hikes and the likelihood of more ahead are far from persuaded.

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