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Pritzker says progressive income tax rates will depend on budget priorities

Illinois Watchdog.Org

Tuesday, May 15, 2018  |  Article  |  By Greg Bishop

Candidates--Legislative (11) , Governor (44) , Taxes, Graduated/Progressive , Taxes, income (86)
The Democrat working to unseat incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner in November is staying silent about how his plan to institute a progressive tax in Illinois would affect taxpayers.

J.B. Pritzker and Rauner differ on key issues, including changing the state’s income tax structure and term limits.

While continuing to push for tax rates based on income as a way for the state to become fiscally stable, Pritzker hasn't said what the rates should be or where the lines on income should be drawn.

The billionaire Hyatt Hotel heir stopped in Springfield on Monday to talk with small business incubator Innovate Springfield. He said he heard from the small startup businesses about the need for government stability in Illinois.

But when it came to the idea of what tax rates small businesses and individuals should pay under his progressive tax plan, Pritzker said it would depend.

“We can only determine what the rates are by virtue of a negotiation with the legislature at the time, what the priorities are in the budget and then we’ve got to make it transparent to the voters who ultimately get to vote on them,” Pritzker said.

For there to be a change in income tax rates from flat, where everyone pays the same rates, to progressive, where there would be a tiered rate structure, the voters would have to approve an amendment to the state constitution.

Last week at a forum in Chicago, Gov. Bruce Rauner said the state’s flat tax is the one of its only positive fiscal attributes and a progressive tax is the wrong way to go.

“[Progressive tax supporters are] going to say it’s a millionaire tax, ‘let’s tax the millionaires.’ Well, watch the businesses flood out,” Rauner said. “More importantly, every state that’s gone to a graduated income tax, the middle class gets socked. The middle class pays more.”

Voters will not be asked to amend the constitution for a progressive or tiered rate structure this November because lawmakers failed to get any constitutional amendment ballot questions passed before the deadline.

Another issue voters won’t get to sound off on is term limits.

Rauner last week said anyone being elected to office should sign a pledge to support a term limits ballot question for voters to decide on. Those seeking to be a state representative should sign another, Rauner said.

“‘I promise to vote for somebody, anybody, other than Mike Madigan to be speaker after 35 years,’ because there’s no reason one person should stay in power for more than 30 years,” Rauner said.

Asked in Springfield if Madigan should be speaker again, Pritzker said that’s not for a governor to decide. Asked if he’d support a pledge for future state representatives to oppose Madigan, Pritzker said while he supports term limits on legislative leaders, he’s focused on changing how political maps are drawn.

“I think Democrats will win if you give us the opportunity to win in districts that are today drawn specifically for Republicans and I think Republicans will have a chance to win in districts where they haven’t been winning before,” Pritzker said.

Voters will not be asked about changing how the state draws political maps this November either, because lawmakers failed to get a question on the ballot before the deadline.