Don Rose on the need to vote yes this November for a progressive income tax in Illinois.

Don Rose is a veteran progressive political consultant and activist.

Second only to top-of-the-ballot votes for Joe Biden and Democratic senate and congresspersons, we Illinois voters must (go to the top of the) ballot and vote YES on what will be listed as the “proposed amendment of Section 3 of Article IX of the Illinois Constitution.”

It will permit Illinois to join most of the nation in establishing a graduated state income tax to replace the flat 4.95 percent we now pay, regardless of our incomes—a graduated tax such as we pay Uncle Sam.It is a matter of fairness and economic necessity. We need the revenue.

Let me give you some history.We never had a state income tax until 1969, when a courageous moderate Republican governor (yes there once were such) named Richard Ogilvie got one passed with a rate of 2.5 percent. That year there were elections to the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention and a nascent independent progressive movement elected delegates up and down Chicago’s lakefront (giving rise to the term “lakefront liberal”) plus elsewhere in the city and downstate.

That band of independents helped give us a very progressive constitution in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties and gender equity—but failed in their economic goal of establishing a graduated income tax similar to the federal government. The power of money and a conservative establishment killed it off. Ogilvie was defeated two years later—as he feared might happen for sponsoring the tax.Ever since progressives have tried to get a constitutional change on the ballot, but never were able to muster up the super-majority in the legislature necessary to do so—until now, thanks to Governor J.B. Pritzker and boss-of-bosses, the much investigated Speaker of the House Mike Madigan.Pritzker ran on the issue and is putting up millions of his personal billions to get it passed in November’s referendum, but other billionaires, millionaires and fiscal conservatives are fighting it even harder than they did at the constitutional convention. The opposition strikes all kinds of fears, such as an exodus of businesses from the state, higher taxes for everyone and any other spaghetti they can throw at the wall.

The fact is, quoting the Chicago Tribune: Income between $10,000 and $100,000 would be taxed at 4.9%, and the rate would remain at 4.95% for income between $100,000 and $250,000. From there, single filers would be 7.75% for income between $250,000 and $350,000, and 7.85% for income between $350,000 and $750,000.In short, many would pay less, most others the same, while top levels—who can well afford it—would pay more. That’s why they call it the Fair Tax.

The only poll I know showed 2 to 1 support for the tax, but that done before the onslaught against it.

To become a reality either 50 percent of all voters must support it—very unlikely since so many vote only top of the ticket—or 60 percent of those who actually vote on the issue must say yes. Very possible—but you must remember to vote and remind all your friends. It will not solve all the state’s economic problems, but it will be a major stride—and a fair one.

7 thoughts on “Don Rose on the need to vote yes this November for a progressive income tax in Illinois.

  1. Hi, I’ve heard rumors that voting in the fair tax (which I agree with) would open the constitution and allow for changes to TRS benefits as well. Is this true?

    Thank you! I really enjoying reading your posts.

    Julie Reuss Kelly Sent from my iPhone


    1. Hey Julie,
      This is absolutely NOT true. The vote is only on an amendment to the flat tax. If impacts nothing else. It would require an constitutional convention to address anything else or a separate proposal. It will not impact TRS benefits. Please spread the word.

  2. NO –

    A graduated income tax would reward many of the same politicians who created the state’s fiscal mess, entrusting them with more money and greater taxing power. This has been going for decades. People are leaving in droves.

    1. No it doesn’t. The constitutional responsibility of the legislature is to give them taxing power. This directs them to tax the wealthy at a rate that they are restricted from taxing now. If people are leaving in droves, why is the housing inventory outside of downtown the lowest in 15 years? Yes. African American exodus from the City is a real thing, but not because of income taxes.

  3. I’m sure someone pointed this out before; Don Rose corrected his misaasertion of Fair Tax appearing on the bottom of the ballot. The constitution amendment for a graduated income tax is in fact on the *top* of the ballot, before the presidential choice, a good one-two punch, if one doesn’t vote for anything else.

    *Thom Clark 312-405-2142 @thomnewstips www.* *Grandpa, radio host, editor, photographer, educator, activist & chef.*

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