SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Madison County School Superintendent Bob Daiber tried to jumpstart his primary campaign for governor on Thursday by becoming the first Democrat in the race to say exactly how much his tax plan would cost you.
Democrats J.B. Pritzker, Sen. Daniel Biss and Chris Kennedy each vow to install the first-ever progressive income tax code in Illinois, but none besides Daiber have yet given any specifics on what their rates and tax brackets would look like.
“I believe in leading by example and that is how I have based my entire political career,” Daiber said in an on-camera interview outside the governor’s office. “That is why we are releasing our progressive income tax scale today.”
The 38-year school teacher and administrator made stops in Chicago and in Springfield at the state capitol to promote his proposal, which would require a statewide ballot referendum to approve a rewrite to the state constitution before it could be implemented. The state constitution requires a flat income tax rate, making Illinois one of just 15 states in the U.S. that do not have some form of a progressive tax code.
“I realize this will take a constitutional amendment in 2020,” Daiber told reporters at a press conference. “That is not an easy lift, but it is something I will provide leadership for, it’s something I will spearhead.”
Daiber’s plan would tax households earning more than a million dollars annually at a top rate of six percent. Families earning between $150,000 and $999,999 would pay the current statewide rate of 4.95 percent. Daiber’s plan would mean a tax cut for every household earing less than $150,000, starting with 3.75 percent and going down for those earning less than $45,000 (2.25 percent) and less than $25,000 (one percent).
According to a review of the Illinois Department of Revenue’s 2015 income tax returns report, fewer than 5,500 Illinois residents paid taxes on annual income higher than a million dollars.
Daiber expects his primary rivals to propose tax plans more costly than his. The Madison County Democrat has attended dozens of forums and events discussing policy ideas where he shared the stage with his opponents. He gave his read on how his plan might contrast with theirs.
“My tax rate is going to be let’s say maybe more moderate,” he said. “The scale that I have laid out is very conservative. In fact, it gives a great deal of middle-class people somewhat of a tax break. That is what a progressive system is supposed to do. It also does another thing a progressive system should do and that is ask those that earn more to pay some more.”
He claims his plan would result in an extra billion dollars in revenue for the state and would deliver a $600 annual tax savings for someone earning $52,000 a year. He says he would consider a sixth tax bracket for people earning between $500,000 and a million dollars a year to squeeze more revenue out of the progressive plan.
“I believe that if you are going to be a candidate for governor and if you are going to tout a particular issue, then you need to step forward and show leadership toward it,” he said, calling his plan a “model to begin the discussion” about a progressive income tax in Illinois.
Republican Governor Bruce Rauner opposes a progressive income tax, but has recently adopted a slightly harsher tone in describing the GOP tax cuts in Congress, warning the capped state and local tax deduction could be “punishing” for Illinois families.Rauner previously praised the “pro-growth” elements in the cuts to the corporate and federal income tax rates.
Daiber says his state tax plan didn’t change after Congress rewrote the tax code.
“I didn’t make any adjustments to this based on what the federal government is doing, but for the benefit of working people, it may be a real plus if we wind up paying more as a result of these tax cuts,” he said.
Daiber coupled the release of his tax plan with his 2016 state income tax returns, but did not turn over his federal tax returns.
“When you talk about releasing your tax returns to become governor, I think you ought to be showing what you’re paying in state income tax,” he said.
He has promised to turn over his complete federal tax returns by Friday. Daiber says other candidates should release their state tax returns in addition to their federal.
“I really would like to see from candidates what their gross earnings were, what their income tax was that was paid to the state of Illinois.”
“If you were going to become governor of the state of Illinois, are you paying state income tax? In 2014, it was reported that [JB] Pritzker paid no state income tax,” Daiber said.
The Pritzker campaign said “J.B. had investments in businesses in other states where he paid taxes, so he got credits exceeding the amount owed.”
Daiber added, “I don’t say he’s done anything wrong. The law is what’s wrong.”
Daiber said he would only agree to sign off on legal recreational marijuana after Illinois voters passed a symbolic ballot referendum, citing voter movements in Colorado and Oregon.