State Senator Don Harmon and others had a problem last June: how to pay for things. Voters were waiting, hands outstretched, but the wherewithal was running short. So he decided to return to the well, amend the constitution, ditch the one-size-fits-all flat tax, and raise more moolah!
He filed the senate bill on the last day of the session, early enough to "build momentum" in the months ahead, he told the Daily Herald, maybe get people used to the idea of paying more to live in Illinois. It would be by way of a brand-new progressive income tax. A "fair tax," he called it on the hustings last summer, and the bill's synopsis has it, making it official.
Gone will be the "non-graduated rate … [so] that this may be a fair tax," the synopsis says, as if this amendment is a bill of taxpayer rights, when it's for moolah. The vote's a-coming. We are to find out who has the fairest tax in our land, hoping the answer will be our great state of Illinois!
Meanwhile, some have more to give and must do so. Get into the deep pockets, therefore. Save the state, save the programs.
How deep the pockets for this pursuit of extra moolah? Deep starting at $18,001 a year, covering all those people who cruise along unfairly, even outrageously. Let them cough up.
Especially those at the top, making over $500,000 a year. Don's fellow (or sister) Dem in the House, whose bill is "nearly identical" to Don's, the Herald writer observed, wants 9% of their overage. That's up from the flat 3.75% which is to replace the current (temporary) 5%.
She wants 8% of what's over $195,000, 7% of over $95,000, 6% of over $58,000, 5% of over $36,000, and finally 4% of the aforementioned $18,000 — each rate, keep in mind, contrasted with the 3.75%.
Make more than a princely $18,000, you get a tax increase. It would be "one of the largest transfers of wealth in the history of Illinois," says the Illinois Policy Institute, and "not from the wealthy to the poor — but from the general public" to unionized government workers.
It's a huge revenue grab, in other words, presented not even as a way to make up budget shortfalls, unimaginative as this would be, but as fair. Chutzpah, thy name is Harmon!
He wants this. Give it to him. He's a man of the people. Deep-pocket citizens, unite! Give Sen. Don your vote and your money. It's only fair.
Jim Bowman's book "Company Man: My Jesuit Life, 1950-1968" is available at Book Table on Lake Street and online.
Answer Book 2017
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