Both Senate President Don Harmon and House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch have announced they oppose putting the graduated income tax amendment that failed in 2020 on the ballot during the 2022 election (proponents of this amendment have branded it the “Fair Tax Amendment”).

I support the amendment and believe the Illinois General Assembly (which Harmon and Welch lead) has an obligation to put the amendment on the ballot.

The state of Illinois is in debt to retirees and future retirees. In public, Democrats say that Illinois will honor its pension obligations. Privately, a smart, connected person told me the plan is to keep procrastinating until the Illinois Supreme Court allows the government to renege on the pension clause in the Illinois Constitution.

Basically, the Illinois General Assembly wants to either pressure the voters to amend the Constitution or pressure the Supreme Court to allow the government to impose a “haircut” on retirees.

What the Illinois General Assembly wants to avoid is raising taxes on people who are rich enough to dump $100,000 and more into ousting incumbents.

The obligation to put the amendment on the ballot in 2022 comes from a simple idea: The people campaigning for the “Fair Tax” in 2020 said that if it didn’t pass there would be consequences, tax increases and significant cuts.

The Illinois General Assembly is now done with the spring session of 2021 and there were no big tax increases and no big service cuts. The Democrats have created their own problem. If they wait to put the “Fair Tax” on the ballot in 2024, the “if you don’t vote for this there will be consequences” argument comes up against … there weren’t consequences last time (and, BTW, taxing the rich is still an option).

It sucks that Illinois is in debt. It sucks that some elected officials are probably going to get voted out on the way to fixing this. Actually, that doesn’t suck. What sucks is the people getting voted out aren’t going to be the ones who created the problem.

Having the requirement of a “flat tax” in the Illinois Constitution was a bad idea. But it was part of the bargain that got the Illinois Constitution ratified.

The “flat tax” part of the Illinois Constitution should be fixed. And it can’t be fixed unless the Illinois General Assembly puts the amendment on the ballot and the people vote to ratify the amendment.

Carl Nyberg, Chicago

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