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Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Illinois state senators who pledged not to raise income taxes

Their View

By Brendan Bakala, Illinois Policy Institute | Jan 25, 2017

Pressure is mounting on lawmakers in Springfield to go along with a “compromise” budget plan that would raise income taxes on every Illinoisan. Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, have thrown their support behind a proposed budget plan that would raise state income taxes to 4.95 percent from the current level of 3.75 percent.

These rates could get even higher, since Senate leaders have not agreed to cap the increase. That means the state income tax could very well hit an all-time high of 5.25 percent, if the plan passes. The new tax rate would be even higher than the 2011 temporary income tax rate, which did not solve Illinois’ fundamental fiscal problems. And unlike the 2011 tax increase, this proposed income tax hike has no sunset provision, making it permanent.

Yet, a number of lawmakers promised not to raise taxes.

Americans for Tax Reform, a taxpayer advocacy group, maintains an active pledge for lawmakers across the country to sign. The pledge states that the signer will agree to not vote for or support any new taxes or tax hikes. The pledge has proved popular among candidates and officeholders across federal, state and local levels of government with signatures from over 1,400 elected officials.

The following Illinois state senators have also signed the pledge:

Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon

Tim Bivins, R-Dixon

Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove

Dave Syverson, R-Rockford

Bill Brady, R-Bloomington

Sue Rezin, R-Morris

The state senators who signed this pledge should remember they were not making a promise to Americans for Tax Reform, but rather to Illinois taxpayers. Illinois already has one of the largest combined tax burdens in the country, and the last thing middle-and working-class Illinoisans need at this point is yet another tax hike.

An income tax hike would only hurt residents and accelerate Illinois’ already worst in the Midwest out-migration crisis. From 2011 to 2013 after the 2011 income tax increase Illinois experienced a net loss of 200,000 people and $10 billion in taxable income to out-migration. On top of the losses to out-migration, the income tax hike did not solve the pension crisis, debt crisis or bill backlog, as politicians and special interest groups advocating for the tax promised.

These state senators were not coerced into signing the pledge, but did it because they knew the last thing their constituents needed was more of their income taken. Cash-strapped Illinoisans should not have to fork over more of their hard-earned dollars for the same services they were paying for before because of the serial mistakes Springfield lawmakers made. The signers of this pledge should make good on their promise and refuse to go along with any plan that would raise the state income tax.

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