Chicago Tribune Tees Up Arguments Against Democrats’ Progressive Income Tax Referendum

The Chicago Tribune has an editorial which lays out arguments that can be used in opposition to the constitutional referendum to end Illinois’ flat tax.

Governor JB Pritzker just dumped $5 million into the proponent’s Political Action Committee.

It concentrates on broken promises by Springfield politicians.

‘Toll free in ’73!′

Governor Bill Stratton is on the left.

The Northwest Tollway was promised to be “toll free” by 1973.

‘A state lottery will benefit schoolchildren!’

The Tribune botches the explanation on this “promise.”

It is certainly true that Rockford State Rep. Zeke Giorgi promoted the lottery as a source of money for local schools.

That, however, was not how the money was targeted.

As part of the Regional Transportation Authority deal, lottery proceeds were targeted for the General Fund to pay for the RTA’s state subsidy.

As criticism of the pre-passage promotion mounted, in the 1980’s, legislators (mainly elected after the 1974 RTA referendum establishing the new taxes and subsidies) passed a statute putting the lottery’s profits into the State Aid to Education Fund.

Not that it made any difference as far as State Aid went.

As the Tribune satirically wrote,

“We never said in the 1970s that this wouldn’t be a shell game, did we? So what if we spent the lottery proceeds on education but moved a similar amount of education money to other spending?”

‘It’s just a temporary income tax increase, Part 1: Only a 20% surcharge!’

The Tribune refers to the second “temporary” income tax hike.

The first was under Governor Jim Thompson in 1981. State Rep Sam Vinson, a former legislative liaison for Thompson elevated after his predecessor mistook the railroad tracks home for I-55, used a bill I introduced the year before to amend the income tax law to allow people to earmark $10 to a Non-Game Wildlife Fund. (The bill passed, but was vetoed by Governor Thompson.)

The second, which the Tribune cites, was enacted in 1989.

As the Tribune wrote, ” It took us four years to trash that 1989 promise…[and make] permanent.”

‘Casino gamblers can’t blow the rent money!’

Zeke Giorgi provided the misinformation again.

The riverboat casino bill was provided legislators very shortly before passage.

It was about 100-pages and, although I was not in the legislature (having run unsuccessfully for State Comptoller against Roland Buris), I was helping State Representive Margy Parcels. She was questioning Giorgi.

Giorgi asserted his bill “would limit gamblers to a $500 loss per casino visit.”

I told Margy that I could not find that language in the bill.

She asked Giorgi for the page and line.

He did not supply the information.

I remember his squirming as he avoided revealing he had lied about the limitation’s inclusion.

The Tribune wrote, “everyone thought it was there.”

Well, not everyone was misled.

All one had to do was read the bill.

‘No more $15 billion pension liability!’

That was the figure trotted out in 1994.

The Tribune reports a “new payment scheme would defuse an unfunded liability that Gov. Jim Edgar called ‘a time bomb.’”

Edgar’s people were negotiating a new contract for state workers, who had a not-so-hot pension plan.

I remember being briefed on it the last week of the session (as one of the Appropriations Committee Spokesmen). That weekend the St. Louis papers reported on how the Missouri legislator had modified its state retirement benefits.

Half would continue to be a defined benefit plan, but the other half would henceforth be a defined contribution plan (like a 401(k) plan.)

I brought that to the table in the Governor’s Office and was told that no change could be made, that the meeting was just a briefing. (After that same meeting, State Senstor Dick Klemm finally agreed to my proposal for a right-turn lane on Route 62 as it met Route 31.)

Now the unfunded pension liability is $137 billion, unless you believe Moody’s, which estimates it at $240 billion.

‘Wrong, Judy. College Illinois will pay for itself!’

The Tribune relates State Treasurer Judy Topinka’s warning that a prepaid tuition plan guaranteed would not be self-sustaining.

“… so what if this dead-bang-loser will cost you taxpayers $501 million.”

‘Believe the governor: At most, a 1% tax hike!’

Governor Pat Quinn got his math wrong on his original proposal to hike the income tax rate from 3% to 4%.

Most of the media missed the mark, too.

A one percentate point hike is a 33% increase.

It’s just a temporary tax increase, Part 2: We’ll fix Illinois …

Democrats declared, “…a four-year, 67% income tax hike would “pay off our debt,” “pay the interest on that debt,” “pay our old bills” and “deal with the structural deficit.” 

Apparently not.

… and we’ll freeze the income tax rate for 10 years!’

“So what if a bunch of us promised in July 2017 that if you’d tolerate that 32% income tax hike to a 4.95% rate, we’d reform property taxes, pensions, tax credits, workers’ compensation. Yes we broke our earnest promises but hey, we really wanted to go home from Springfield. This time, you can trust us.”

All these FBI agents? They’re just tourists.

The Dems say give us billions more and there will be “…no insider deals to benefit the political cronies…pay no mind to our unfolding scandals…there’s nothing to see here.”

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

The Tribune editorial concluded its pitch against next November’s so-called “Fair Tax” like this:

“Springfield pols will find plenty of reasons to raise taxes not only on The 3%, but on big chunks of The 97%, too.”


Chicago Tribune Tees Up Arguments Against Democrats’ Progressive Income Tax Referendum — 4 Comments

  1. My hope is the majority of Illinois taxpayers/voters see thru the facade of the so called fair tax, and reject it by a massive margin.

  2. The Tribune must be working their way up to number one on the top ten list.

    The budget is balanced.

  3. Sure, they can say that.

    But is it really balanced Mark?

    Unfunded debt obligations just don’t disappear, unless discharged.

  4. The budget is balanced is another phony claim by the State.

    The budget is balanced should be number one on a top ten list of phony State claims.

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