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House Republicans Vow To Fight Graduated Income Tax

Dana Vollmer
NPR Illinois
State Rep. Avery Bourne of Raymond says House Republicans are united in opposition to a graduated income tax.

Republicans in the Illinois House are speaking out against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax.

Pritzker has yet to lay out what the income brackets would be, but GOP leaders say graduated income tax rates in other states have been a burden for the middle class and small businesses.

“In his budget address, Pritzker stated that three-quarters of states with an income tax structure have graduated rates,” state Rep. Avery Bourne, a Republican from Raymond, said Wednesday. “However, what he failed to mention is that half of those states — or 17 of 34 — with a graduated income tax structure top out their top bracket at $60,000 a year.”

Republican lawmakers said they’re not interested in negotiating the tax brackets. They argue that the current flat tax is one of Illinois’s last competitive advantages.

But when the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale polled the question last year, it found that 51 percent of Republicans — and 49 percent of conservatives — support a graduated tax.

Still, state Rep. Keith Wheeler, a Republican from Oswego, said he’s not worried.

“I don’t believe that that polling actually reflected any real rates, so no one could actually understand how it would affect them,” Wheeler said. “If it were just a millionaires’ tax, that might be one thing. If it’s going to hit everyone down to the $17,000 level, [that’s a] whole new poll.”

Seventy-two percent of all Illinoisans supported the graduated tax in the Simon Poll. The change requires amending the Illinois Constitution — which would have to be approved by 60 percent of voters in a general election.

An Illinois Issues survey last year found 57 percent of respondents support a graduated income tax, including 41 percent of Republicans.

The House GOP collectively signed on to a resolution vowing to fight a graduated income tax system.

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