With only two weeks until the election, House Republicans on Monday ramped up their attacks on the proposed constitutional amendment to bring a graduated income tax to Illinois.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs insisted that the state's wealthiest residents, including Gov. JB Pritzker, would find ways to shield their income to avoid paying the higher rates that would apply to the rich.
"The most important thing people should know is, this will not affect only the millionaires and billionaires," Durkin said. "It is going to be the middle class that ultimately will be carrying this."
Supporters of the amendment have said that is not the case. Lawmakers have approved the rates that will go into effect if the amendment is approved. Only those making $250,000 a year or more will be paying higher income taxes. Those making less will pay the same as or less than they are now.
Durkin said Pritzker's "spending desires" are to spend more state money.
"Typical Democrat, true Democrat type of attitude," Durkin said. "He's going to ask for more taxpayer money to accomplish that no matter where it comes from."
The graduated income tax is projected to raise about $3.5 billion more in state tax revenue. Pritzker has said the money is needed to cover state spending costs.
Asked where the state should cut $3.5 billion if the amendment doesn't pass, Durkin and Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, sidestepped the question. Demmer, one of the House Republican budget negotiators, said a starting point would be the 6.5% budget cuts state agency directors were asked to identify earlier this year, but which were never made public. He said those proposed cuts should be reviewed, although he did not say they necessarily would be supported.
The pro-amendment Vote Yes for Fairness said opponents of the amendment are desperate.
"As has been reported, Gov. Pritzker and trusts for his benefit would have paid $3.7 million more in state income taxes under the Fair Tax," said chair Quentin Fulks in a statement. "That's exactly why we need the fair tax — to ensure that millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share, while giving a tax cut to 97% of Illinoisans. Opponents of the fair tax are desperate to turn the conversation away from the facts of the amendment because they have no excuse for why they believe a billionaire should pay the same tax rate as a nurse or a grocery store clerk."
Get Government & Politics updates in your inbox!
Stay up-to-date on the latest in local and national government and political topics with our newsletter.