On the Nov. 3, 2020 general election ballot is a constitutional amendment to allow the state of Illinois to impose a non-flat income tax. The constitutional amendment should not be passed as proposed. It does not address the real issues facing Illinois and is being sold as a “fair tax” but is nothing less than a “blank check.” If anyone is on the fence whether to support this amendment that increases income taxes for most Oak Park residents, consider the following:

Not a single Republican voted for this amendment; rather, it was approved by the Democratic Party’s super-majority in the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives. This was made possible with the passage of the “Cutback Amendment,” championed by former Gov. Pat Quinn, which resulted in the suppression of the minority voice in Illinois.

Eliminating Springfield’s pay-to-play politics is not addressed. Illinois’ politicians can continue to accept donations from the same public service unions with whom they negotiate employment contracts.

Needed local real estate tax relief and public employee pension reforms are not addressed.

Reform to reduce the state budget through increased government efficiency is not included. As a result, programming to improve the quality of life for persons with mental illness will remain underfunded. President Reagan was correct: “A government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!”

The 32 percent personal state income tax increase in 2017 did not satisfy Springfield’s insatiable appetite for tax dollars. The passage of the amendment provides no assurances of preventing future income tax increases.

Springfield, in an attempt to gain support for the amendment, is promising special interests more money than will ever be received with its approval. This is what bankrupted Illinois, requiring it to request a federal bailout. Other states have sent letters to Washington stating it is not fair that their citizens bail out Illinois, which refuses to get its financial affairs in order.

Governor Pritzker, with support of legislators, has increased the gasoline motor fuel tax rate by 103.7 percent since July 1, 2019. Has this tax increase improved the highways? Since last year, the debris on both shoulders of the Eisenhower Expressway requires that drivers navigate it on windy days as it shifts across the lanes. This morning an abandoned, burned-out car was on the inside shoulder westbound at East Avenue. The Oak Park stretch of the Eisenhower in both directions looks like a war zone. This tax increase didn’t benefit Oak Park citizens. Will another be the same?

Political action committees (PACs) will spend millions of dollars to get this amendment passed without any concern for the taxpayer. In November, we can send a clear message to Springfield: “The citizens of Illinois deserve better!” During the COVID-19 epidemic is not the time to raise taxes. President Reagan once said, “Simple fairness dictates that government must not raise taxes on families struggling to pay their bills.”

Richard J. Willis

Past Oak Park Township Trustee and Community Mental Health Board member

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