Contributed article by the Illinois House Republicans.
State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) today voted against Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 1 (SJRCA1), a constitutional amendment that would repeal the provision in Illinois’ Constitution that requires a flat income tax structure. This will allow state lawmakers to levy income taxes at a graduated rate. Proponents of the bill contend that this will raise state income tax revenue by billions of dollars a year.
“Changing Illinois’ tax structure to a graduated income tax will inevitably bring a tax increase on a majority of Illinoisans and will hurt small businesses. Illinoisans cannot afford another income tax increase and we cannot afford a system that allows politicians to play with rates and brackets just to fill annual budget holes,” said Rep. Bourne. “While proponents are promising that only the wealthiest will pay more, we still don’t know what rates will be implemented. We’ve seen many different proposals in the past few months. The trend? The rates continue to be adjusted higher and the thresholds are lowered to hit more people. That’s what will continue if this Amendment is added to the Constitution. There simply aren’t enough rich people in Illinois to pay for the uncontrollable spending coming out of state government. This leaves Illinois taxpayers and small businesses susceptible to unpredictability and the whim of the slimmest majority in the Illinois legislature, who have shown time and again they refuse to live within their means. And, ultimately it will mean a tax increase on the families of Illinois.”
The graduated income constitutional amendment, SJRCA1, passed on Memorial Day with a partisan vote of 73-44.
Bourne added, “This proposal fails to fix is our overall tax burden. A recent study showed that Illinois has the highest overall tax burden in the nation. In order to be competitive, we must address the overall tax burden, not just the income tax. And increasing any one tax or changing our tax structure to a graduated tax will not make Illinois more competitive – period.”
The majority party has not allowed a vote on other constitutional amendments that would provide political reforms and taxpayer protections that are overwhelmingly supported by Illinoisans. Rep. Bourne is a co-sponsor of House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 34 which would require a two-thirds majority vote from both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly to raise any existing tax or pass a new tax. She is also a co-sponsor on House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 10 and House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 15, which would end the practice of politicians drawing Illinois’ congressional and legislative maps. None of these constitutional amendments have been called for a vote or even made it out of the Rules Committee.
Since the governor unveiled his graduated income tax proposal in March, Senate Democrats have already changed the income tax rates. The number of taxpayers who receive a tax cut has gone down, while the number of taxpayers who will see a tax increase has gone up. The Illinois House has yet to vote on graduated income tax rates.
“Those who say that a graduated income tax would only mean that the “rich have to pay their fair share” are either lying or woefully misguided about the reality of Illinois’ financial situation and how a graduated income tax has been applied in other states,” Rep. Bourne continued. “In half of the states with a graduated income tax, the top rate applies to incomes of $60,000 per year or less. In neighboring Missouri, the highest rate hits incomes at just $9,253 and up.”
Nationally, states have been trending away from a graduated income tax towards a flat income tax. Currently, nine states levy no income tax and nine states levy a flat income tax. In 2011, Utah repealed their graduated income tax and opted for a flat income tax. North Carolina did the same in 2014 and so did Kentucky last year. Twice in the last five years, Colorado voters rejected ballot referenda to adopt a graduated income tax. The last state to switch from a flat tax to a graduated income tax structure was Connecticut, which did so nearly three decades ago in 1991.
SJRCA 1 successfully cleared both the Illinois House and Senate and will therefore appear on the 2020 ballot. If 60% or more of voters approve the referendum, the Illinois Constitution will be amended.