Mussman, Kegarise debate graduated income tax, spending

Democratic state Rep. Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg and Republican challenger Scott Kegarise disagree on the advice they'd give voters on the graduated income tax referendum, as well as the impact they believe it would have on the next state legislature.

The two 56th District candidates debated the merits of the ballot question, along with how well Springfield is handling its taxation responsibilities, during a joint interview with the Daily Herald.

Kegarise, a Schaumburg resident and the highway commissioner of Schaumburg Township, argued that state legislators have a poor track record to be asking for any change in their taxing authority.

“The flat tax we have now does the job. It gets the job done if the legislature does their job and only spends the money that comes in,” Kegarise said. “But they can't seem to get it right. They keep spending outside their budget.”

Changing the taxing authority for a state government that doesn't keep its current promises and borrows from pension funds is something Kegarise said strongly opposes and would continue to do as a member of the state House.

“A high schooler knows that if he has $100, he can't spend $200 and not expect a consequence,” he added. “But the state legislature, they keep spending money they don't have, that we don't have, but we're on the hook for.”

Mussman argued that a graduated income tax is fairer, and that it doesn't grant the legislature any more power to raise taxes.

“It is well understood that the flat tax is one of the most regressive models there is to use as a taxing model,” she said. “That is why the federal government and the majority of the other states have a graduated income tax. Independent, nonpartisan organizations like the League of Women Voters have studied this issue independently and they support switching over to a fair tax system because it is less regressive.”

Mussman also challenged Kegarise's argument that the state budgets of the recent past are a product of Democrats' desire to overspend.

“Ninety percent of the state budget is mandated by law — federal law, state law or by court order,” Mussman said. “You can't just not spend money because you would like to not spend money that year. And that's what Bruce Rauner found out when he attempted to cut the budget.

“You don't get to call the bank and say I'm going to spend less mortgage this year because I need to be more fiscally conservative,” she continued. “And the state legislature doesn't get that luxury either.”

The 56th District includes parts of Elk Grove Village, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Roselle and Schaumburg.

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