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Progressive tax opponents say Gov. J.B. Pritzker went too far to push amendment


Friday, November 8, 2019  |  Article  |  By Cole Lauterbach | The Center Square

Ethics, Campaign Reform, Transparency (12a) , Governor (44) , Taxes, Graduated/Progressive
A state government budget projection that said Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s progressive income tax proposal could solve most of the state's fiscal problems has opponents crying foul. 

The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget released a statutorily required five-year projection last month that shows the state will have $19 billion in backlogged bills without additional revenue. 

“Without changes to the current trajectory of the state’s finances, year end accounts payable will continue to grow year by year throughout the reporting period,” the report said.

The report goes on to outline the new revenue that a progressive income tax plan would bring in, using Pritzker’s “Fair Tax” verbiage, and the benefit that it would have on the state’s backlog of bills. It then poses the state’s fiscal future as dependent on the passage of the amendment. 

“Governor Pritzker believes that the fair tax proposal outlined here is an important element of the path forward for Illinois to return to fiscal stability,” the report said. “There are few alternatives if the Fair Tax amendment is not enacted.” 

Pritzker sent news of the report out in a press release, further touting the ballot initiative. 

“Without structural changes like the Fair Tax, Illinois will continue to struggle to make ends meet, pay our bills on time and deliver vital services, like public education and public safety,” he said. 

The political tones had opponents warning Pritzker that it is illegal to use public resources to promote ballot initiatives.

“Those who are for it ought to spend their political dollars to do that and those who are opposed to it will abide by the law and not use any state resources to do the same,” said Greg Baise, chairman of Ideas Illinois, a nonprofit formed to fight the graduated income tax initiative. 

Baise said he was actually pleased that the governor’s office was called out for pushing the envelope regarding the report with more than a year to go until the ballot initiative is decided by voters in the November 2020 election. 

“Let’s just hope that the governor’s learned his lesson,” Baise said. 

Pritzker’s lawyers have said that the governor’s comments on the ballot initiative were within the law.