Springfield progressives push to impose a wealth tax – Crain’s Chicago Business


“The revenues we have just aren’t enough to fund the critical needs we have,” Guzzardi said. “We want to make sure our tax system is more fair and invest in our communities.”
With what may be a long, hot summer approaching, “We need to have a real conversation about how to uplift our young people” instead of blaming them for crime woes, Peters said. “We have some particular concerns right now, and instead of putting the cost on the backs of working people (these bills) will start to ensure that those with more than enough in their pocket pay their fair share.”
Under one measure, the fee retailers get to collect sales taxes, now 1.75% of the take, would be capped at a maximum of $1,000 a year per retailer.
The plan drew immediate strong blowback from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. In an interview, IRMA President Robb Karr said his members actually are losing an average of 6 cents a transaction under the current payment scheme. Karr said he has “no idea” if the measure, which is similar to bills floated in previous years, will get anywhere this time. “They can do anything until they do their budget.” 
The other bill would require anyone who has assets worth at least $1 billion to annually pay income taxes on any growth in their value, whether or not the asset is sold. Progressives long have pushed for such an idea nationally but have not made much progress.
Guzzardi likened the potential levy to the property tax, in that any increase in value results in a higher tax bill. A home is the primary asset of most families, Guzzardi said, and the same principle should apply to wealthy folks whose assets are in financial instruments.
Guzzardi did not mention that the property tax is roundly detested by many, on grounds that it requires people to pay even if they don’t have the available cash to do so.
Spokespeople for Senate President Don Harmon and House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch declined immediate comment. But the request for more money comes at the same time that another progressive priority, paying heath care costs for undocumented immigrants and refugees, has poked a major hole in the state budget, with expenditures now past $1.1 billion a year.
Elsewhere in Springfield, former Gov. Pat Quinn called on lawmakers to hold a special session to tighten ethics rules in the wake of the conviction of the “ComEd Four” on bribery and conspiracy charges.
In a letter to Harmon, Welch and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Quinn specifically called for, among other things, formalizing a rule that bans lawmakers from voting on matters in which they have a financial conflict of interest, allowing voters to adopt rules themselves via referenda, giving the legislative inspector general subpoena power and banning campaign contributions from regulated utilities and monopolies.

Officially, Harmon, Welch and Pritzker all indicated they believe considerable ethics progress has been made in recent years but that they’re willing to consider new ideas. Privately there were suggestions that Quinn had his chance to push ethics reform when he was governor between 2009 and 2015, and it was noted that his administration faced allegations of patronage abuse. Quinn’s administration was accused by the state’s inspector general of patronage hiring abuse in the Illinois Department of Transportation. The flap became an issue in Quinn’s re-election loss to Bruce Rauner.

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May 9, 2023 at 08:57PM

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