29th District Senate candidates Morrison, Davie differ on graduated income tax

Democratic state Sen. Julie Morrison and Republican challenger Barrett Davie have vastly different opinions of a proposed graduated income tax for Illinois residents.

A graduated income tax system, sometimes called a progressive tax, assesses wealthier individuals at a higher rate. Illinois now taxes everyone's income at 4.95 percent.

Morrison said she'd support asking voters to approve amending the Illinois Constitution to create a graduated income tax system, but only if the income brackets were defined ahead of time. Davie opposes the concept entirely.

Morrison and Davie will face off Nov. 6 for the 29th Senate District seat, which represents parts of Cook and Lake counties, including portions of Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights and Wheeling. They discussed taxes and other issues during an interview with the Daily Herald and in candidate questionnaires.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker wants to change Illinois to a graduated system. He hasn't revealed the tax brackets he envisions.

Those brackets and the rates for a graduated system would need to be set by lawmakers.

Morrison, who first was elected to the Senate in 2012, said she'd support switching from a flat tax to a graduated tax if voters agree to the change. But she'd vote to put the issue on a ballot only if the proposed brackets were established first and explained on the ballot.

"(That way) the residents in my district have a completely informed choice on what they're voting for," Morrison said.

Morrison was one of only two Democrats who voted against increasing the state's personal income tax rate to nearly 5 percent in 2017.

"I thought there was a lot of work that still needed to be done," Morrison explained.

Davie, the vice chairman of a sports marketing company and the co-founder of an early-stage business advisory firm, is staunchly against a graduated income tax.

"We're the most taxed state," he said.

Davie criticized legislative leaders for "resisting all fiscal reforms," for not reforming the pension system and for seeking to balance budgets with tax increases and cuts to human services programs.

"(This) will only deepen our state's fiscal crisis and population decline," Davie said.

Davie also criticized Morrison for opposing the income tax increase while also voting for state spending bills.

Morrison responded by saying the state "had to have a budget."

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