I hope Illinois taxpayers have been able to enjoy the past couple of weeks of relative inaction in Springfield.
Starting next week, it's going to be a sprint to see how much more of your money lawmakers decide to take to pay for their out-of-control spending on an out-of-control state government.
In the final five weeks of the 2019 legislative session, which is scheduled to end May 31, lawmakers are expected to take votes on the following:
• Placing a constitutional amendment on the November 2020 ballot to allow for a graduated income tax.
• Increasing the state's gasoline tax.
• Legalizing recreational marijuana and taxing it.
• Legalizing sports betting and taxing that.
• Placing a 7-cents-per-bag tax on plastic bags at grocery stores, big box stores and elsewhere.
• Imposing a new tax on streaming services such as Netflix.
• Increasing taxes on tobacco including vaping products.
• Adopting a tax on financial transactions.
I'm sure I'm missing a few.
These anticipated tax hike votes will come less than two years after lawmakers adopted the largest permanent increase in the state's income tax in history, raising it from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent. And with Illinoisans already paying the second highest property taxes in the country according to a number of studies, and among the highest sales taxes depending on where you live, any frustration you have when trying to balance your family budget could get that much worse.
Let's start with Gov. J.B. Pritzker's push to change the state constitution to allow for a progressive income tax, which would allow lawmakers to set higher rates for higher wage earners.
Illinois' constitutionally guaranteed flat income tax really is the state's only advantage over its neighbors and the country when it comes to luring potential jobs creators. But Pritzker wants to get rid of that one advantage because he says the successful should be paying more. As if that's not problem enough, Pritzker's numbers don't add up.
The governor says 97 percent of taxpayers would see a slight tax decrease under his proposed rate structure, but that's a red herring.
By raising income tax rates on just the wealthiest 3 percent, Pritzker says he can raise $3.4 billion to pay for his additional spending priorities. But no one can duplicate his math. Folks much smarter than me at crunching numbers say Pritzker's rate structure would generate far less than $3.4 billion.
Why does that matter? Because it means that even if the governor's rate structure is adopted initially, lawmakers will have to go back in a short period of time and raise the rates on the middle class.
It's easier to pitch voters on a progressive tax if they think it won't affect them.
But make no mistake: If lawmakers and Pritzker persuade voters to change the constitution to allow for a graduated tax, the majority of wage earners will see their income taxes increase within a few years.
State lawmakers also are looking to raise the state's gas tax by 19 cents a gallon to pay for infrastructure. That would be on top of the 37.5 cents in gas taxes the state already charges and the state's sale tax. At the same time, President Donald Trump is proposing raising the federal gas tax by 25 cents a gallon, from 18.4 cents a gallon to 43.4 cents. If both proposals were to pass, Illinoisans could see their combined state and federal gas taxes increase from 55.9 cents a gallon to 99.9 cents.
Americans for Prosperity Illinois estimates the combined gas tax hikes would cost the average family in the state $480 a year. That's real money.
Add in any of the added costs associated with the other tax hike proposals, it's outright scary.
Lawmakers return to Springfield Tuesday.
Dan McCaleb is news director of Illinois News Network, a project of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, a non-profit media company dedicated to the principles of transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility. His columns include his own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinion or editorial position of The Southern. Contact Dan at email@example.com.