(The Center Square) – Illinois Republican lawmakers vowed to block any proposed progressive state income tax.
The Illinois Constitution requires a flat income tax. The progressive income tax proposal in 2020 would have introduced a tiered income tax structure with higher taxes for higher earners, but voters rejected the idea.
State Senator Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, said he plans to offer the measure in the coming weeks.
Senate Minority Leader John Curran, R-Downers Grove, said he would introduce legislation to block the tax change.
“We are here today to speak about our firm determination to oppose recent attempts by Senator Rob Martwick to move to a progressive income tax, which we are strongly opposed to,” Curran said during a news conference in the capital on Wednesday.
Martwick said something had to be done to avoid a cut in funding for government services.
“We’re heading to a place where the state will have to cut funding again for education, basic services and public transport, we will stop investing in our roads and our bridges will crumble,” Martwick told Wednesday The Center Square. “Because we don’t pay attention to it.”
Martwick then urged Republicans to come up with a plan if they didn’t want to move to a progressive income tax.
“That’s an idea. Is it the best idea? I don’t know, but it’s an idea. It’s a solution to those problems,” Martwick said. “What I would say is that this is my solution. What is yours?”
In 2020, voters rejected the proposed progressive tax with 55% of the vote against switching from a flat income tax to one with increased rates for higher earners.
Curran said Illinois residents are tired of their tax dollars being wasted.
“It failed because Illinois voters are tired of giving their state government blank checks and having their government keep coming back for more and more,” Curran said. “Despite the plan of the supporters, voters see that this will increase taxes for everyone.”
Gov. JB Pritzker was asked about the possibility of the proposal coming back. Pritzker didn’t answer the question directly, but said his focus would be elsewhere.
“That’s not what I’m focusing on in this session,” Pritzker said last week. “We have done important work to balance the budget and fill corporate gaps. Some mistakenly believe that balancing the budget was solely due to the money that came out of them [federal tax funds for COVID-19 relief] to the government, and that’s just wrong.”
As of Wednesday, no proposed constitutional amendment had been tabled in either the Illinois Senate or the House of Representatives.