So, graduated income tax proposals and legislative redistricting won’t be presented to voters in November. Instead of piece meal adjustments, is it time we call it on the 1970 Illinois Constitution?
I know I’m not the first to propose this, but I was struck by the discussion during the hearing for HR1025. The bill was filed by Rep. Michael J. Madigan on April 26 and expresses support for a progressive income tax but without specific rate proposals.
During the hearing on the bill I was struck by the one sided conversation. Now, I understand the committee hearing was convened to discuss HR1025 but I am not satisfied to discuss additional revenue (read new taxes) year after year without discussing cost reductions. Our residents, our businesses, and our state deserve better.
Nevertheless, Rep. Robert Martwick summed up the approach of HR1025. He argued that the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability calculated that the 4.95% current flat tax would need to be raised to 6.45% to keep up with state spending. “That’s not politics, that’s math,” he claimed at the hearing.
But that’s math that only deals with one side of the ledger. If we simply look at additional taxes as our way forward, then we are looking at a hefty bill. Whether it’s another raise in the constitutionally protected flat tax or a raise in the progressive income tax, if we try to tax our way to out of this current situation then we will see a dramatically greater tax burden on Illinois residents.
So, as this debate continues, I argue that we should consider bipartisan proposals that reduce the cost as well. The Illinois Senate passed a bi-partisan pension reform bill last year, SB16. Many argue that Sen. President Cullerton’s “Consideration Model” won’t pass a constitutional challenge and I’m not convinced it’s the best policy.
So, if we are to have a debate on removing the constitutional protection for a flat tax, we should also discuss the constitutional protections on our unsustainable pension obligations. And while we’re at it, let’s review the protections for congressional maps that serve politicians over voters.
Let’s have an #ILConCon2020.