The Daily Herald delivered harsh but necessary truth in its Dec. 5 editorial against Illinois moving to a graduated income tax. The editorial rightly exposed the progressive tax for what it really is: a money grab disguised as tax reform. Tax hike advocates are using "tax fairness" as the sales pitch for increasing the state income tax. But the progressive tax is just an attempt to replenish state government's coffers to counteract what the Daily Herald correctly identified as a "major spending problem."
State government doesn't need more money. The 2011 state tax hike is proof of that. By summertime, Illinois politicians will have collected more than $25 billion from the 2011 tax increase. That should have been more than enough to pay off the $8.5 billion backlog of bills that politicians claimed -- along with the state's lagging economy and pension crisis -- was the justification for the tax increase. But Illinois is worse off today than in 2011. That's not just the economic indicators talking; a We Ask America poll commissioned by the Illinois Policy Institute found that more than 70 percent of Illinoisans surveyed feel the 2011 tax hike has neither helped Illinois' finances nor improved the state's economy. The truth is Illinois politicians don't want to be held accountable for that truth, and that's why they're pursuing the progressive tax hike.
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Instead of increasing taxes again, politicians should be held accountable for the 2011 tax increase. That means all of us need to hold politicians to their promise to reduce the income tax rate in 2015. Allow the rate to sunset from the 5 percent it is at today to the rate of 3.75 percent that was promised to us. After taking $25 billion, they owe us that much.
Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst
Illinois Policy Institute