* Zorn takes a look at the constitutional amendment passage requirement of 60 percent of those voting on the measure or over 50 percent of all those voting in the election…
The either/or requirement makes interpreting the results feel like one of those vexatious story problems from junior high math. If 6 million people go to the polls, and half a million of them leave the referendum question blank on their ballots, what share of the yes/no votes needs to be “yes” for the amendment to pass?
The answer is 54.5% because the “majority of all votes cast” requirement would be achieved first with 3,000,001 votes, even though it is a lot lower than the three-fifths (60%) of yes/no votes cast — the other path to passage.
And, not uncoincidentally for the purposes of this column, it is approximately the percentage of the vote that Gov. J.B. Pritzker received when he beat incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner in the 2018 general election in a campaign marked by his strong support of switching to a graduated-rate system.
The basic idea behind this unusually convoluted requirement is that the more the public is engaged with a referendum question, the more the constitution wants to honor the principle of majority rule. But the more the public is tuned out — doesn’t care or doesn’t feel informed enough to vote either way — the more the constitution wants to raise the standard for passage so that reforms that are obscure, complicated or actually unpopular don’t slip in under the radar.
Go read the rest.
* In a related development…
* The Wall St. Journal’s editorial board is, not surprisingly, opposed to the measure…
Illinois voters will decide next month whether to enact a progressive income tax, paving the way for a new top rate of 7.99%. In addition to the direct damage higher rates would inflict on bottom lines, voters should consider the high-tax neighborhood they’d be moving to.
The Tax Foundation ranks states by tax competitiveness, and its latest analysis is bad news for Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other progressive-tax backers. The Prairie State currently ranks 36th worst in overall tax burden because its flat individual rate of 4.95% offsets very high property and other taxes. (See the nearby table.)
But its proposed slate of new individual income tax rates, along with a corporate tax hike tied to the same ballot measure, would drop the state’s rank overall to 47th. That would move Illinois into Dante’s ninth ring of tax hell, ahead of only New Jersey, New York and California.
* And it’s little surprise that the Sun-Times editorial board is for it…
Millionaires and billionaires don’t like paying higher taxes any more than the rest of us, though they are in a much better position to do so. It’s in their bald self-interest to kill the Fair Tax proposal, meaning Illinois would remain stuck with its regressive flat tax — no matter what harm is done, down the road, to middle-class and low-wage earners.
And you can count on that: If Illinois does not approve a graduated income tax, the likelihood that ordinary working people will have to pay higher taxes will only grow.
The states’ finances are in crisis and additional revenue is necessary. Cutting expenses alone won’t do the trick. If that additional tax revenue is not paid by the very wealthiest taxpayers, as set out in the Fair Tax plan, it will be paid by everybody else — every carpenter, hair stylist, accountant and store clerk.
* Hannah Meisel…
But what the fate of Pritzker’s so-called Fair Tax will mean for Chicago’s financial future is less clear cut. The potential for extra revenues at the state level doesn’t make a significant dent in the city deficit, and isn’t a silver bullet for fully funding items Lightfoot campaigned on last year.
The mayor has been far less vocal than the governor about where she stands on the graduated income tax, endorsing it when prompted, but not leading on the issue.
“I’m a for,” Lightfoot told reporters last week when asked about her position on the tax change. “I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to make a substantial amount over time. And I think people recognize the need for everyone to pay their fair share, but I think we have to do it in an equitable way and I think that’s what the Fair Tax, as it’s known, seeks to accomplish.” […]
But State Sen. Rob Martwick (D-Chicago), who championed a progressive tax for years and sponsored the graduated tax amendment in 2019, was not shy about his belief that the city’s finances would be devastated without voter approval of the tax, as it would “stabiliz[e] the state revenues that flow through to the city.”
“As bad as the state’s budget is, the city’s is immeasurably worse,” Martwick said. “If [the graduated income tax amendment] doesn’t pass, it could be catastrophic all around, especially for the City of Chicago.”
* The Illinois Policy Institute gonna Illinois Policy Institute…
There are 2 million Illinoisans of retirement age, and currently the state does not tax their retirement income. But there is significant reason to believe the “fair tax” amendment to the Illinois Constitution would bring retirement taxes if passed.
And then there might be 10,577 fewer of those seniors in Illinois if its experience with a progressive tax matches Connecticut’s.
I love how they project down to the person. You can pretty much figure a projection is phony when you see that.
* Butler has it right…
Governor J.B. Pritzker is assuring voters that a proposed graduated income tax will not impact their retirement income. Pritzker said late last week that opponents of the “fair tax” are planning to tax retirement income. Republican opponents say Pritzker’s statement isn’t true. Republican lawmaker Tim Butler says that it is unlikely that legislation will be proposed to change rules on taxing retirement income, whether the graduated income tax passes or not.
…Adding… Rep. Butler says he doesn’t know where WJOL got that info and pointed to this story…
Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, opposes the proposed tax amendment.
“From the House Republican perspective, we in no way support taxing retirement income,” Butler said. “I don’t know where the governor comes up with that statement.”
Redfield said whether this tax is passed or not, the legislature has always had the power to tax retirement income, but he said he thinks it’s unlikely that there will be a legislation change to that.
“What stops from taxing retirees today is that we have a flat tax in Illinois. If we tax one retiree, we have to tax all retirees,” Butler said. “That’s the firewall against raising taxes.”
…Adding… WJOL updated…
A previous version of this story attributed comments to lawmaker Tim Butler that were not accurate. We regret the error.
*** UPDATE 1 *** I told you last week that a judge had denied IPI’s motion for a TRO against part of the official Fair Tax explanation language. The final order was released today. Excerpt…
While Plaintiffs have a clear right to a free and equal election, they have not demonstrated a clear right to corrective action on an emergency basis, for it is not patently clear the language on the ballot or pamphlet is so rnisleading that it abridges a constitutional right in need of protection. Like it or not, the proposed amendment does give the State the ability to impose higher tax rates on those with higher income levels and lower income tax rates on those with middle or lower income levels, just as the ballot describes. Plaintiffs have not shown on the clearest of grounds that this language is so misleading and confusing to give rise to a constitutional violation. Plaintiffs merely conclude and speculate that the language is deceiving and confusing to voters without any specific evidence demonstrating confusion or obstruction to a particular individual or group of voters.
*** UPDATE 2 *** Press release…
COL (IL) Jennifer Pritzker, ARNG (Ret.) has donated $500,000 to the Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Hike Amendment as a measure to help protect the citizens of Illinois. Jennifer Pritzker believes the proposed graduated tax will only hurt already overburdened Illinois taxpayers and removes any political barrier to impose a tax on retirement funds.
“There is evidence that the tax hike amendment could eventually raise taxes on the middle and working classes. With so many families and small businesses struggling to recover from the ravages of the pandemic, raising taxes is not a financial solution Illinoisans can afford to enact,” said Jennifer Pritzker, President and CEO of TAWANI Enterprises, President and Founder of the TAWANI Foundation and the Pritzker Military Foundation, and Founder and Chair of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library.