Stressing the heavy tax burden poor and working class residents bear
in Land of Lincoln, a group of Senate Democrats -- led by Sens. Michael
Frerichs (D-Champaign), Ed Maloney (D-Chicago), and Kwame Raoul
(D-Chicago) -- have proposed a constitutional amendment that would remove the
mandate that Illinois' income tax rate remains flat.
At a press
conference in Springfield this afternoon, the senators made clear that this
resolution does not itself change the state income tax rate. Instead, it would
give voters the chance to voice their opinion about the merits of a
graduated tax system (in which different income brackets pay different rates, just as they do at the federal level). If the General Assembly approves the measure, it
would be placed on the ballot this coming November. If approved by voters, lawmakers could then introduce legislation creating new tax brackets.
video below, the lawmakers emphasized the importance of providing
lawmakers flexibility going forward in how they apply taxes:
The lawmakers did not offer the bill as solution to the state budget crisis, but instead emphasized that it would give the General Assembly greater "flexibility" in shaping tax policy going forward.
In 2008, Sens. Frerichs, Raoul, and Steans were among a group of Democrats who proposed a very similar amendment. The measure was handily defeated, despite the fact that polls show
the public is largely supportive of progressive taxation.