There’s much to be concerned about these days.
On my list is the news I’m hearing that the amendment to the Illinois constitution ending the flat tax and replacing it with a graduated progressive fair tax might not make the threshold to pass.
It needs 50% of all registered voters or 60% of those voting to pass.
Some polls show it at 55% approval and voting has begun.
Word is that it is doing well in Chicago, but losing downstate.
It appears that many retirees believe the ads, paid for with billionaire Ken Griffin’s $50 million dollars, that their retirement income and pensions are threatened by the amendment.
Why would Griffin give a rat’s behind about our retirement income and pensions?
I’ve been writing and fighting for public employee pensions for a dozen years at least. I receive a teacher pension.
In all my years of pension activism, never have I seen Ken Griffin beside me.
Will the amendment tax retirement income and pensions?
No. Nothing in the amendment even mentions taxing retirement income. Public pensions cannot be taxed without taxing everybody’s retirement income. Nobody in the legislature has suggested doing that. The governor is opposed to it. The constitution doesn’t need an amendment to do it. The legislature can vote to tax retirement income any time they please.
It is a red herring.
Will the amendment open up the constitution and remove the pension protection clause?
No. Nothing in the amendment impacts anything else in the constitution other than the mandated flat tax. The pension protection clause was upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court and it would remain the law of the state. No public pension can be diminished or impaired.
It is a red herring.
The sudden concern with retirement income by those like the Illinois Policy Institute, Republicans and Ken Griffin is laughable. They are the same people who have been calling for cuts to public pensions for years.
It is disheartening to find organizations I have respected such as the Illinois Retired Teachers Association taking no position on the amendment when the billions of dollars taxing the rich would go a long way to addressing the state’s pension liability.
It was disheartening to hear TRS board of trustee Doug Strand, who I supported when he ran for the retiree seat on the board, refusing to support the amendment and repeating the distortions and lies of Ken Griffin when Strand spoke to my local IRTA zoom meeting.
It appears that the anti-amendment forces got the jump on the groups supporting a yes vote by spending Griffin’s money early and framing the amendment as more taxes on the working and middle class.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Yet time is short and we have to get the word out.