Democrats in Springfield have voted to put a referendum question on the ballot next year that, if approved by voters, would switch Illinois' constitutionally protected flat income tax to a graduated one. Under the current proposal, rates would increase on those earning more than $250,000 a year. More important, the constitutional change would empower the legislature and future governors to change tax rates and income brackets whenever they wish. Which direction do you think those rates will head?
Make no mistake: Switching to a graduated income tax is not going to save this state. Not even close. New revenue generated under the rates proposed — optimistically, $3.4 billion per year — doesn't come close to paying down the massive debts Illinois lawmakers have piled up, including a $133.5 billion unfunded pension obligation that's still rising. Worse, hitting high-income earners will have the reverse effect of driving more residents and businesses to flee Illinois.
The way out is real reform and it's hiding in plain sight. The pension clause needs to be loosened. Benefits earned so far should and would be protected.
Why should Illinois voters be denied the chance to vote on pension reform while they're voting to raise billions of dollars in new income tax revenue?
Tell your legislators you really do want to fix Illinois: When you vote on the income tax, you want to vote on a pension amendment too.
Voters deserve to have public policy set by legislators who aren't getting cash from one side of the debate.
Elected officials are working for the video gambling industry — pulling in good money — and then, as legislators, participating in the big decisions about how to tax and regulate that very same industry.
A story by Jason Grotto of ProPublica Illinois and Dan Mihalopoulos of WBEZ Chicago spells out financial links between lawmakers and the video gambling industry. The danger of dark influences has always been great.
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With that in mind:
- State Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, should not be working for the video gambling industry in any capacity.
- Senate Assistant Majority Leader Antonio Munoz's son should not be working for the industry.
- No elected official — we're looking at you, state Sen. Tom Cullerton and Cook County Commissioners Deborah Sims and Peter Silvestri — should be allowed to have a direct or indirect financial interest in video gambling.
Video gambling laws in Illinois favor the industry, not the people of Illinois or taxpayers. The state does not even set aside money in licensing and administrative fees to cover the costs of policing the industry, which is what the fees were intended to do.
Who's looking out for you when elected officials, even if only a handful, are directly or indirectly on the payroll of the video gaming industry?
Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus
We were pleased to see last week that Illinois lawmakers had sent Gov. J.B. Pritzker a pair of good government bills that merit his signature.
HB2265 would require Illinois middle schools to create and include a much-needed unit on civics education. The class would be created by educators and funded by private donations.
HB348 would give township voters, via referendum, the power to dissolve township governments in McHenry County, but has the potential to be expanded to include other communities in this government-heavy state.
While the two bills do not, on their face, appear to have much in common, both present opportunities to improve Illinois government and the body politic.
We trust the governor, too, will see the merits and reach for his pen.