There’s a ton of TV and radio ads promoting the so-called “Fair Tax” and a ton of ads fighting against it. You probably know the drill. Illinois currently has a Constitutionally mandated flat income tax. Governor Pritzker and the Democratic Legislators who unilaterally rule Illinois want to change to a progressive or graduated state income tax– to collect more tax money (duh!). So in their endeavors to be cute — and cynically to fool Illinoians — they have packaged their tax hike as a “Fair Tax” on the ballot for voters. Pritzker and other proponents of the “Fair Tax” say it’s only a tax increase on millionaires and billionaires and that “97% of Illinoisans will pay the same or less” if it passes. But that’s plain bullshit. How do I know that? Because there are no rates within the constitutional question that will be put before Illinois voters, so there’s no way to know what the ultimate rates will be and what taxpayers would then pay. The only thing we know for sure is that the “Fair Tax” is offered as a TAX INCREASE to raise more state revenue. To be sure, there are no rates offered in the Illinois Constitution now, only that the legislature must pass a flat income tax — one that charges the same rate for all taxpayers. Naturally, those who make more pay more, and those who make less, pay less but that’s not important for those who believe in the “Fair Tax.” They say those who make more should not only pay more but should pay more at a higher rate. This is where the class warfare comes in and in order to sell the notion, the proponents of the “Fair Tax” make the disingenuous claim that “97% of Illinoisans will pay the same or less”. Again, it’s a blatant lie because they have no idea if that’s true and are only making the claim to sell the proposition to the voting electorate.
Here’s the thing, there have been two state income tax increases in Illinois since 2011 and both were difficult for Illinois politicians to make, but neither of these tax increases did anything meaningful to dig Illinois out of its outrageously bad financial position. Why? Because Illinois politicians spend – to quote the wacky self-proclaimed philosopher/former governor Rod Blagojevich – like drunken sailors. And they do. Just to give you one small example, in 2011/2012 Illinois’ budgeted spending was projected at a little over $29B. Now? That spending number is closer to $41B, a ridiculous increase over less than 10 years.
It is important to note, to be fair (ironic, yes?) that more states use a progressive or graduated model than flat tax states like Illinois. But (and it’s a big but), nine states don’t even have a state income tax at all. That’s right zero (!) state income tax for states like Texas, Florida, and Tennessee. Not ironically, those three states are in far better financial shape than Illinois. For instance, Tennessee’s public pensions are funded to approximately 98%. Illinois? Approximately 40%, and falling.
But even if you should be philosophically aligned with a progressive or graduated tax model for state income tax, the question every voter ought to be asking themselves is this simple one: Do You trust Illinois politicians with more taxpayer money? Asked another way, have those politicians who are asking for more tax dollars, earned the trust of the taxpaying public to wisely spend more hard-earned tax dollars? A similar but perhaps even more important trust question is, does anyone really think Illinois politicians will make good on their “97% will pay the same or less” nonsense? If history is our guide, we know the answers to these questions, don’t we?
The bottom line? Go to the voting booth (or yes, mail in your ballot) and vote accordingly…after answering those pesky trust questions. Cheers!