Eight panelists square off in The Great Graduated Income Tax Debate

Illinois Capitol News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Fifty years after a flat income tax was enshrined in the Illinois Constitution, voters could move to abolish it and replace it with a graduated rate structure that promises to raise taxes on people who earn more than a quarter million dollars in annual income.

The initial proposal would also lower the income tax burden for people who earn less than that amount, and it would allow the General Assembly to change the income brackets, create new ones, or adjust the tax rates for each grouping in the future.

These are the initial income brackets and tax rates adopted by the Illinois General Assembly that would go into effect if voters approve the graduated income tax question on the 2020 ballot.

Supporters of the plan say it would help stabilize the state’s financial outlook without punishing low wage workers and the middle class with a flat income tax hike or without slashing spending on popular issues like education or social services. Critics have argued the tax hike on the rich isn’t big enough to fix all the state’s fiscal woes all at once, and that the tax cut on the middle class and low wage earners isn’t big enough to provide meaningful relief.

Four panels of expert analysts, state legislators, and leaders in business, labor and economic development debated the pros and cons of adopting a graduated income tax on Capitol Connection.

You can watch the full extended interviews with each panel below:

State Representatives Avery Bourne (R-Hillsboro) and Carol Ammons (D-Urbana) discuss how the General Assembly might spend the projected $3.4 billion in annual revenue from a graduated income tax, debate where to cut state spending, and discuss whether legislators could move to raise income taxes on the middle class or low-wage earners in the future.

Todd Maisch, President and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and Pat Devaney, Treasurer and Secretary of the Illinois AFL-CIO, the state’s largest conglomerate of trade unions, debate how a graduated income tax rate structure could impact business growth, wage growth, and consumer spending.

Following the first wave of Coronavirus infections and business closures that disproportionately affected low wage workers, women, and minorities in the workplace, Larry Ivory with the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce and Cherita Ellens with Women Employed debated how a graduated income tax rate structure could impact wage equity, economic development and opportunity.

The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability’s executive director Ralph Martire, a tax and policy professor at Roosevelt University, squared off with Americans for Prosperity’s Andrew Nelms to analyze and evaluate how a graduated income tax rate structure might impact other areas of the state’s tax code.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.