SPRINGFIELD, IL – Senate Republican lawmakers stood with middle-income families during the week, voting against a $3.4 billion tax increase as Democrats pushed through a graduated income tax proposal with no protections for taxpayers.
Incredibly, proponents of the graduated income tax have already changed the rates they want you to pay from when we first heard about rates from the governor earlier this year.
While the new rates are part of a package of bills tied to the constitutional amendment, passed by the majority party May 1, the amendment itself curiously contains no listed rates. Do you trust Springfield with a blank check?
The constitutional amendment provides no protections for taxpayers, and no guarantees the rates won’t change again. The authors of Illinois’ Constitution chose a flat-tax for income because it provided middle-income families with better protections from politicians because it’s easier to raise taxes under a graduated system. We only have to look at the experience of taxpayers in other states:
In the last 20 years…
- States with graduated taxes have shifted brackets, leading to tax increases, 24 times!
- Meanwhile, states with flat taxes have reduced taxes 21 times and increased them only four. (Twice in Illinois by the majority party.)
I stood with middle-income families and voted against the constitutional amendment proposal and supporters who acknowledge it will be a $3.4 billion tax increase. It was passed by every Democrat member of the Senate and opposed by every Republican member.
The constitutional amendment now goes to the House for consideration. If adopted by a 3/5ths vote of each Chamber, the measure will be placed on the ballot in the fall of 2020 for voter approval.
In related news, proposals also emerged during the week that sponsors claimed would repeal the estate tax and provide property tax relief, but upon closer examination, these measures seemed to be part of a political game to push through a tax hike contained in the constitutional amendment.
If Democrats were serious about repealing the estate tax, they wouldn’t tie it to the graduated income tax. If they were serious, they would support Leader Brady’s proposal, which is a stand-alone repeal of the state’s estate tax, introduced long before the conversation about the graduated tax began in earnest. The estate tax is assessed on your property when you die, so you might call it a death tax. You’ve paid taxes on what you’ve earned all your life, why should you give a portion of your estate, the legacy you’re leaving for your family to state government?
Our counterparts across the aisle were also playing games with property tax relief.
Meaningful property tax relief has long been a priority for our caucus. It’s one of the big reasons I am supportive of local consolidation. The proposal we saw this week was not real proerty tax relief. The requirements are so stringent that they are unlikely to ever result in any relief. It only applies to school districts and it does nothing to prevent municipalities and other local entities from raising property taxes. This is simply smoke-and-mirrors, part of a political game to push through the $3.4 billion tax hike, which is the constitutional amendment.
Local Government Consolidation #1
Also this week, a local consolidation measure – I am cosponsoring – passed out of the Senate local Government Committee. House Bill 3369 permits the Village of Lindenhurst to dissolve the Lindenhurst Sanitary District Board and transfer the board’s power to the Village, including its taxing powers.
This idea is an initiative of the Village of Lindenhurst to dissolve an unnecessary special district that is largely contained within the Village. The Village plans to fully dissolve the district when its debts are paid off.
This is good government legislation eliminating an unnecessary taxing body and extra layer of government. HB3369 was introduced in the House this spring by Rep. Tom Weber. It will now come before the full Senate for consideration. The bill has already been approved by the House.
Local Government Consolidation #2
In related news, a consolidation measure impacting McHenry County passed out of the Senate Executive Committee 16 to 0. I’ve been very involved in the local consolidation movement and House Bill 348 contains key taxpayer protections, regarding responsibility and benefits that I pushed going back to last fall.
Consolidation is a great way to reduce the size of government in our lives, cut costs and deliver better government to the people. In addition to the taxpayer protections, HB348 also respects taxpayers, giving voters a choice to consolidate through the ballot box. Real consolidation legislation is good government and ensures taxpayers are the true beneficiaries of smaller, smarter and more efficient government.
The next legislative action on HB348 will be when it comes before the full Senate for consideration. The measure has already been approved by the House.
State Agency Pushes Measles Vaccination
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated against measles after a current rise in reported measles cases. According to IDPH, there were seven reported cases of the disease in Illinois so far this year. More than 600 cases have been reported across the country in 2019.
The Agency’s activities include;
- Mobile Units: IDPH will assist in providing mobile health units to neighborhoods with low vaccination rates to hold clinics and provide vaccinations.
- Targeted Events: IDPH will identify events with high parent and children attendance and support vaccination clinics at these events. These can include county fairs and neighborhood celebrations.
- Faith Outreach: IDPH will work with religious organizations to sponsor vaccination clinics after services, during vacation bible school, and near other religious gatherings.
- Community Coordination: IDPH will work with community health workers and parent educators to help set up appointment times for vaccinations, provide or arrange transportation, and assist parents in filling out the paperwork.
- Public Education: IDPH will work to combat misinformation about vaccines and increase education efforts through health events, marketing, and social media.
IDPH says they are also working with schools, community organizations, religious groups, parent organizations, and other stakeholders to identify opportunities to provide vaccinations.
Measles were considered eliminated in the United States in 2000. In recent years, measles cases here originated outside the country.
Do You Have Unclaimed Property
Three weeks ago, my office started working with the Illinois Treasurer’s I-CASH program to identify the owners of unclaimed property. Since we began this effort April 2, I am pleased to report we’ve connected constituents with unclaimed property worth more than a half-million dollars.
You can also check out the I-CASH website on your own at icash.illinoistreasurer.gov and search. Your name, city and zip code is all you need to check the system.
In total, the State Treasurer is holding 2.9 billion dollars in unclaimed funds for Illinoisans. The State holds these lost funds until they are claimed by either the original owner or their heirs. Property is returned at no cost with the proper identification.
Constituents Visit the Capitol
I got a wonderful visit May 1 from two young constituents who were visiting the Capitol. The Illinois School for the Visually Impaired is located in Jacksonville, Illinois about 35 miles west of Springfield. Principal Aimee Veith, and students Alex Karda from Crystal Lake with her service dog Bailey and Makayla Wiseman from Lakemoor came by and I was happy to see them, and to announce their attendance to my fellow Senators.
Keep In Touch/Stay Informed
I welcome your calls, letters and email. You can call my district or Capitol offices: 815/455-6330 or 217/782-8000 and you can email me at email@example.com. I’d also encourage you to visit my legislative website at www.senatorwilcox.com, I post news from the Capitol and you also can sign up for my free newsletter, connect to state government agencies and resources and a lot more including, an extensive list of sites veterans can use to connect to employment, education, service records and more.