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00000179-2419-d250-a579-e41d3a4d0001The 2019 results are being analyzed. Watch here as details are released.The 2019 Illinois Issues Survey is the second in a planned long-term project which examines the policy preferences of Illinoisans. The study examines policy issues relevant both at the state and national levels across a wide variety of areas. Questions pertaining to immigration, gun control, taxes and the economy, and education policy are asked. The study is designed in a such a way that the interested public and policy makers can make use of the results, which are representative of registered voters in Illinois.The 2019 Illinois Issues Survey was collected and analyzed by the staff in the Survey Research Office in the Center for State Policy and Leadership in partnership with NPR Illinois. The 2018 Illinois Issues Survey Full Report

Survey Shows Significant Support For Graduated Income Tax

Gov. J.B. Pritzker hugs Rep. Robert Martwick after passage of a graduated income tax constitutional amendment
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois
Gov. J.B. Pritzker hugged Rep. Robert Martwick after the Illinois House approved a a graduated income tax constitutional amendment earlier this year.

A broad majority of Illinois voters support major changes to the state income tax, favoring a system where the wealthy pay more. That’s according to new survey data from NPR Illinois and the University of Illinois Springfield.

The survey says 67 percent of registered Illinois voters support a graduated income tax. That’s where people who earn more money pay a higher tax rate, and people who earn less pay a lower rate.

charts showing relative support for a graduated income tax, broken down by party
Credit Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois
NPR Illinois
The concept of a graduated income tax is most popular among Democrats, but also fares relatively well among independents. Although Republicans are least receptive to the idea, 49 percent nevertheless support it.

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker made the proposal a centerpiece of both his campaign and his freshman legislative session. Given that, it’s not surprising the plan enjoys widest support among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic (79%). Next are non-leaning independents (59%), and finally Republicans and independents who lean Republican (49%).

The idea was approved by the legislature this spring, but because it would change the Illinois Constitution, voters will have the final say at next November’s election.

“This poll is showing that Illinois voters are recognizing that our current tax system is fundamentally unfair at its core,” Quentin Fulks, who runs Vote Yes For Fairness, a group campaigning for the graduated income tax, said in a telephone interview.

But Fulks, Pritzker, and other supporters of the tax still have work to do. Although Democrats passed a law that — if voters approve the constitutional amendment — would only raises taxes on income greater than $250,000, a significant number of survey respondents incorrectly believe they would have to pay more under a graduated system (22% of people earning less than $45,000 per year; 29% of people earning between $45,001 and $100,000).

Fulks says the issue will come down to an information campaign.

“We need to get the message out to Illinois voters that a majority of Illinois voters — 97 percent of Illinois voters — are not going to see a tax increase,” Fulks said.

But opponents of the graduated income tax claim it would pave the way for future tax increases.

“Taxpayers do not trust Illinois politicians with a blank check and we look forward to this debate over the next year,” Jason Heffley, director of Ideas Illinois, said in a statement. His group is leading a campaign against the graduated income tax.

Heffley’s statement also claimed that the poll is “wildly inconsistent with every other poll on this issue.” But in fact the findings are remarkably consistent with more than a decade’s worth of survey data from the nonpartisan Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Chart showing percentage of overall voters who support the graduated income tax.
Credit NPR Illinois / NPR Illinois
NPR Illinois
Support for the graduated income tax has remained remarkably consistent over the years of the Simon Poll, with a nearly flat trendline.

(After receiving an emailed statement, NPR Illinois requested an interview with Ideas Illinois, but did not hear back by press time.)

The 2019 Illinois Issues Survey used an online panel of 1,012 Illinois registered voters and ran from Sept. 13-23, 2019. It was designed and analyzed by the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies; the Survey Research Office; and NPR Illinois; all units of the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership.

Additional results will be released in the coming days, on topics including health care and firearms policy.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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