As we enter the final few weeks of legislative session in Springfield, I wanted to give you an update on what issues are being discussed in the General Assembly. The most concerning issue has been the continued push for the graduated income tax, which removes the flat tax guarantee from the Illinois constitution. I provide more details about the tax in this newsletter.
Essentially, when it comes to the graduated income tax, I am asking that all Illinois taxpayers be wary. This is just the latest attempt to raise taxes on Illinois families on businesses. The Democrats have already raised income taxes twice, and this hasn’t fixed any of our state’s fiscal issues. This new proposal won’t work either. The only thing that will fix this will be to act responsibly and spend more efficiently. That means structural reform and finding better ways to provide government services.
Governor Under Federal Investigation
It was revealed that Governor JB Pritzker is under federal investigation for a dubious property tax appeal that the Cook County Inspector General called a “scheme to defraud” taxpayers. In response, I stood alongside my colleagues to call on JB Pritzker to get his own tax situation under control before pushing a new tax proposal on Illinois families.
Senate Democrats Advance Massive Tax Increase
On Wednesday, May 1st, Illinois Senate Democrats passed a graduated tax package out of the Senate that would increase taxes by more than $3.5 billion per year.
The Senate tax package includes four pieces of legislation: a constitutional amendment to remove the current flat tax requirement; a revised graduated income tax plan; a repeal of the Illinois estate tax; and a conditional property tax freeze for school districts. The package is tied together, meaning all of the bills must pass or the estate tax repeal and property tax freeze will not take effect. Below are more details on the components of the legislation:
GRADUATED INCOME TAX
Senate Bill 687 contains the new graduated income tax rates/brackets, along with the following:
- A 6% property tax credit (up from 5%);
- A $100 child tax credit which is phased out once an individual filer’s income exceeds $80,000 and a married filing jointly income exceeds $100,000; and
- An additional $100 million for the Local Government Distributive Fund (LGDF).
Constitutional Amendment Filed to Protect Taxpayers
Last week I signed on as a co-sponsor HJRCA 34, a constitutional amendment that would require a supermajority—or 2/3rds—of lawmakers in each chamber to approve any future income tax increases. This is an important layer of protection for taxpayers, to insure that it isn’t as easy for the Democrats to continue raising taxes.
While a supermajority vote is needed to actually change the constitution for a graduated tax structure, only a simple majority is currently required to once again increase taxes on Illinois families and businesses once the flat. The Democrats have already changed their rates since their initial proposal, which is why it is important that an amendment like HJRCA34 be in place to provide more insurance for our taxpayers, and require a supermajority vote. While this amendment was filed on Tuesday morning, it already has wide Republican support.
COGFA Reports $1.5 Billion Increase in April Revenues
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), the General Assembly’s nonpartisan revenue-monitoring arm, works with the Illinois Comptroller, the Illinois Department of Revenue, the Illinois State Lottery, and other State agencies to check on money coming in and report to budget lawmakers on whether it is keeping up with projections. The April revenue numbers showed good State cash flows in the areas of individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, and State sales taxes.
Total general funds revenues came in at almost $6.8 billion in April, an increase of about $1.5 billion from this time last year, revising the estimated revenues by nearly $800 million. This is important because it shows what economic growth can do for our state. In addition, with this revenue, we can pass a balanced Fiscal Year 2020 budget—without raising taxes!
Governor Pritzker’s no-reform approach would have been much worse until he was rescued by this news of a strong national economy, making his planned pension holiday unnecessary and showing how cutting taxes and regulations can help grow our way out of problems.
With the summer months quickly approaching, mark your calendars for two great upcoming events in our community. They are free and open to the public!
Kid’s Fair: This event will be held on Saturday, June 22nd at Plainfield Central High School from 9:00AM-noon. It will feature a Brookfield Zoo show and tell demonstration starting at 9:15AM, followed by demonstrations by Thrive Dance, Traveling World of Reptiles Show, and TM Martial Arts. Businesses from around the area are participating and information from state agencies will also be available.
Senior Fair: This event will be held on Saturday, July 25th at St. Mary’s Immaculate Church in Plainfield from 9AM—noon. Please stop by to receive helpful guides, literature, and resources from a variety of state, county and local government agencies. A mobile unit from the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office will be on hand to provide driver’s license and state ID renewal, and license plate sticker purchase. Please note that drivers age 75 and older are required to take a driving test to renew their driver’s licenses; therefore they must visit a Driver Services Facility. Driver’s over age 75 can’t renew unless they have taken the driving test. Organ donor sign-up and voter registration are also available with driver’s license and state ID renewal.
As always, please reach out to my office should you have any questions about legislation being debated in Springfield, or any other state concerns!
State Representative Mark Batinick