Progressive income tax debate focuses on women ahead of November vote

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(The Center Square) – Voters will decide the fate of Illinois’ proposed progressive income tax amendment in November, but groups continue to debate the impact the proposal will have on residents.

Changing Illinois’ flat income tax to a structure with higher rates for higher earners will either be good for women and minorities or it will diminish their access to jobs, according to groups on opposing sides of the tax issue.

Supporters of the progressive tax said Tuesday that the proposal to change the state’s flat income tax to a structure with higher rates for higher earners would help women and minorities. 

Opponents said it would have the opposite effect.

One of the advocates was Jennifer Welch from Planned Parenthood of Illinois who said some of the $3 billion in increased taxes proponents have said will be raised from the progressive income tax will help the nonprofit provide services.

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to provide this care when the state can’t keep pace with the growing need,” Welch said during a virtual news conference on Tuesday. “It’s time for fair funding in Illinois and that’s what the fair tax will do.”

Welch was joined by several other women from a variety of organizations as part of 1,000 women leaders in support of a progressive income tax organized by Vote Yes! For Fair Tax. That’s a different group from the Vote Yes For Fairness group.

Through a translator, Maria Gonzales with Latin Women in Action, said the increased revenue for the state will help with programs important for their community.

“That will be put towards education, healthcare and other programs in our communities,” Gonzales said. “Domestic violence and sexual violence programs will also be better funded.”

Orphe Divounguy, the chief economist for Illinois Policy, said instead of increasing taxes on job creators, the state needs to fix it’s spending priorities.

“Even in good times [$3 billion] was a drop in the bucket [of the state’s $40-plus billion budget],” Divounguy said. “Now, a progressive income tax is not going to do anything positive for state budgets. In fact, it will make things worse because it will shrink the tax base.”

Divounguy said the $3 billion in expected revenue from the progressive income tax wouldn’t address the $10 billion a year the state spends on pensions. He suggested reforms to lower those costs and then redirecting that money to education and healthcare programs.

He said a progressive income tax increase during a pandemic will hurt those most affected by the pandemic.

“That job loss has disproportionately harmed minorities and women especially and so anything that stands in the way of job creation will disproportionately harm the people who were most hit by COVID-19,” Divounguy said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who has made the progressive income tax central to his spending plans, has said the proposal will result in the same or slightly lower tax rates for 97 percent of taxpayers while the top 3 percent of earners would see a tax increase. 

Voters will decide the proposal on the November ballot.

26-Delivered

via The Center Square

August 18, 2020 at 09:23PM

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