Standing with Illinois families against tax increase

Senate Republican lawmakers stood with middle-income families during the week, voting against a $3.4 billion tax increase as Democrat legislative leaders pushed through a graduated income tax proposal with no protections for taxpayers.

Proposals also emerged during the week that legislative sponsors claimed would provide property tax relief, and repeal the estate tax; however, upon closer examination, these measures were found to be part of a political game to push through a tax hike.

Standing with Illinois families

On May 1, members of the Senate Republican Caucus stood with middle-income families and against a $3.4 billion tax increase, as Senate Democrat leaders muscled through a constitutional amendment and legislation that sets rates for Governor J. B. Pritzker’s controversial plan to fundamentally change the state’s income tax from a flat rate to a graduated rate.

We have real concerns about this new tax system and how easily rates could be changed in the future. The process to change the system was just introduced a few weeks ago, and the initial tax rates are already changing. Who’s to say they won’t change again?

Just weeks ago, Governor Pritzker announced his proposed rates for the graduated tax plan; however, the rates contained in Senate Bill 687, which passed out of the Senate during the week, have already been increased from the Governor’s initial proposal. This “bait-and-switch” is exactly what Senate Republicans have been warning taxpayers about. 

In a May 1 editorial, the Daily Herald argued that, “On Wednesday, senators demonstrated that not only is that a legitimate fear but they’re willing to do the switching even before the bait has been taken.”

The broader point, the paper noted, “is that the rates already are being changed to bring in more revenue, making lawmakers appear all but indifferent to the fears and misgivings of taxpayers.”

Voting unanimously against the graduated income tax plan, Senate Republicans noted that when Illinois’ current Constitution was written, its crafters chose a flat tax because it provided middle-income families with better protections from politicians.

Data from the Tax Foundation notes that over the last 20 years, states with flat taxes have reduced taxes 21 times and increased them only four times – two of those four increases happening in Illinois. Over the same period of time in states with graduated income tax structures, brackets have shifted leading to 24 income tax increases.

We have said that any plan must have protections for middle-income families, but the sponsors of this tax increase have not listened to our requests. Early on, our new Governor promised that he would work with lawmakers in a bipartisan manner; however, this graduated income tax system is just one more incident when he has not listened to our concerns or accepted our suggestions. His actions do not reflect a spirit of compromise. Why should we trust his latest claims? The citizens of Illinois deserve more than empty promises.

The graduated income tax plan now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Playing games with taxpayers’ money

Also during the week, Democrat legislative leaders introduced measures they claim would provide property tax relief and repeal the estate tax. While their rhetoric would lead constituents to believe these proposals would move the needle on these critical issues, a closer look shows that they are little more than smoke and mirrors – part of a political game to push through a $3.4 billion tax hike.

Republicans argued that if Democrats are serious about repealing the estate tax, they could put their support behind Leader Bill Brady’s Senate Bill 1727, a measure introduced in February that is nearly identical to their proposal – except that it’s not tied to the implementation of a graduated income tax.

The estate tax was previously repealed on January 1, 2010, only to be reinstated a year later on January 1, 2011.

Meaningful property tax relief has long been a priority for Senate Republican lawmakers. During debate, Republican Senators noted that the Democrat proposal that emerged during the week, which is also tied to the implementation of a graduated income tax, is not real relief.

Senate Bill 690 would provide for tax relief only if a series of stringent requirements are met – a situation that would be so unlikely to occur that the proposal is not likely to result in any property tax relief. Not only does the bill only apply to school districts, it also does nothing to prevent municipalities and other local entities from raising rates.

Instead of playing political games with taxpayers’ money, Senate Republicans are urging their Democrat colleagues to come to the table to negotiate real reforms that will put money back in the pockets of Illinois families. 

Police Officers Memorial May 2

The 2019 Illinois Police Officers Memorial Ceremony was held on May 2 in Springfield. This annual ceremony honors the brave men and women who have given their lives in the performance of their duty.

On the west lawn of the Illinois State Capitol stands a monument to these dedicated public servants. Inscribed on the monument are the names of fallen heroes.

This year, four current names and two historic names will be added to the monument.

The four current names to be added this year include Commander Paul Bauer, Officer Samuel Jimenez, Officer Conrad Gary and Officer Eduardo Marmolejo, all of the Chicago Police Department.

Historic names include Constable Benjamin Martin of the Moweaqua Police Department, and John Shaw of the Virden Police Department.

Brian Stewart

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