Battle Heats Up On Progressive Income Tax Amendment

By Benjamin Cox on September 28, 2020 at 10:09am

Two Illinois Senators squared off in a debate about the Fair Tax Amendment Friday morning in Springfield. 48th District Democrat Andy Manar and 50th District Republican Steve McClure met at the Citizens Club of Springfield on Friday and traded pros and cons of the Fair Tax Amendment for those in attendance and those watching via live stream on Facebook.

Dr. Kent Redfield emeritus professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Springfield moderated the hour long debate.

Manar kicked off the debate saying it was time for the Top 3% of earners in the state to start paying more in taxes: “The Fair Tax Amendment is incredibly straightforward. It is not complicated whatsoever. The question before voters is simply this: Should higher income earners pay a higher income tax rate and should lower income workers like nurses and teachers, pay a lower tax rate? That’s it. That is the choice that is before voters. The Fair Tax is grounded in good public policy. Our current system is regressive in nature, meaning that low and middle-wage workers pay a disproportionate share of their income compared to the wealthy. The Fair Tax is in line with what the federal government, a majority of states, and most of our neighboring states have done for years. This is not some off-the-wall idea that was just dreamed up to be put on the ballot in front of voters. This has been in place for years across the country. The Fair Tax rewards work and not wealth.”

Manar went on to criticize what he called “what about-isms” about the amendment saying that Republican tax cuts in the past by the “mad scientist” former Governor Bruce Rauner had caused some of the escalated debt that the state has seen: “We have incredible budget challenges, and it will allow us to stabilize our budget in the State of Illinois.”

McClure says that the fair tax amendment’s passage would further spur the closure of small business and out migration in the state. He believes the amendment gives the General Assembly carte blanche on raising rates on any tax bracket: “The fact of the matter is that there are no rates in the constitutional amendment. None. It doesn’t say you have to tax the rich more. It doesn’t say you have to tax the poor less. All it says is now the legislature has the power to tax in more creative ways. As all of us know, much of what government does is done to either to get voters, or change policy with public opinion. Of course, we are in an election year and this is on the ballot. These rates that have been touted that are not in the constitutional amendment are going to take effect.”

McClure says that population loss, coupled with being named the least tax friendly state in the nation will make the Fair Tax Amendment unbearable for lower income families to pay: “The biggest problem that we are facing and the reason why we are losing so much money is because over the last 10 years, our state has lost more in population than any other state. In that period, we had a 2011 tax; we had a 2017 tax. Do yourself a favor and go back and look at the statements that were made when those taxes were passed. It’s all of the same stuff. We are finally going to get on this path toward being fiscally responsible. This is going to help our bond rating. Everything has gone worse since then…Nothing has been happening to make that better.”

The amendment is the lone Illinois Constitutional action item on the ballot for voters this November.