THEODORE Roosevelt said, “Get action. Seize the moment. Man was never intended to become an oyster.” His words are no surprise coming from one of the most active presidents in our history.
I believe that action is important, especially when it’s the right thing to do. It was Frankish Emperor Charlemagne who said, “Right action is better than knowledge; but in order to do what is right, we must know what is right.” That sounds reasonable to me. Using the right knowledge to do the right thing for the right reasons sounds even better.
As slow as Springfield can be, sometimes it moves quickly. Do you remember how fast the massive minimum wage increase passed earlier this year, without considering any options to protect the jobs of working men and women in downstate Illinois? Your Illinois Senate can move fast when it wants to. It will also pull back when voters act.
Take the progressive income tax amendment as an example. Illinois has a requirement that a notice for a hearing on a constitutional amendment has to be posted for six days before the hearing. On April 9, the Senate voted to waive the posting notice requirement for the amendment before it could be put on the agenda of the Senate Executive Committee. Voters mobilized within hours, submitting thousands of witness slips in opposition to the amendment, and its Third Reading was postponed until after the Senate reconvenes in May.
I’m sure you’ve heard the story that a vote for the progressive tax amendment is a vote for “protecting the middle class.” Well, if that’s the case, why doesn’t the amendment freeze or cap the middle-class tax rates? Corporate tax rates are the only ones capped by the amendment. Why is it so important to cap tax rates for Illinois corporations and not middle-class families?
Let’s take it a step further. If a progressive tax hike were about “protecting the middle class” why are we proposing raising taxes on plastic bags, cigarettes, and gas? Even now, New York is considering rescinding its regressive plastic bag tax. Cigarette and gas taxes definitely hurt lower- and middle-class families harder than the wealthy too.
As I’ve shared many times, I am opposed to the progressive tax amendment for several reasons. The biggest reason is that the amendment doesn’t specify how the money will be spent. We’ve seen The Machine squander revenues from the last two income tax hikes. There’s no reason for us to believe they won’t do it again unless they commit to paying off our bills and fully funding our pensions.
Second, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Our spending problem is the reason we have a revenue problem. We need to reform our pension system and spend your tax dollars wisely.
Lastly, reforming our spending problem will help us cut property taxes. If we don’t make sure homeowners see a decrease in property tax bills and reform our long-term spending issues, property taxes will drown any income tax relief for working families.
We need to be honest about the size of our problem. Everyone should have some skin in the game to help solve it. And then we can work on solutions… together.