A few days ago, I received in my mail a pamphlet from the Secretary of State purporting to explain the choice we will all have on November 3 by voting on an amendment to the Illinois Constitution.
By passing this amendment to the Constitution, one monetarily back by our governor, politicians will then be able to decide who should be taxed, how much they should be taxed, and it would also allow them to gradually increase taxes on smaller segments of the population. This would include the “middle class,” where most taxable income resides. This amendment would also make it easier to tax seniors’ retirement income. While it is true, as pointed out in the pamphlet, that this amendment does not tax retirement income, what it does do is give politicians the ability to do just that at a later date without any prior vote by citizens.
Illinois has shown a decline in population for six years running, primarily adults in their prime working years. If that trend continues, the governor’s “fair tax” will not garner the anticipated monies, and politicians will be looking elsewhere for additional funds. That elsewhere could very well be retirees. The last state to switch from a flat tax, such as Illinois now has, to a graduated income tax, was Connecticut, in 1996. Since 1999, Connecticut’s state income rates have risen more than 13 percent.
This amendment to our Constitution, if adopted, would allow politicians to start taxing retirements at a different rate than income. Perhaps they will begin only by taxing those with the largest retirements, as State Treasurer Michael Frerichs explained in a clarification in August of this year. But, it would then be easy to lower the exemption threshold to include more of you Social Security and/or retirement income.
Our state has shown that our lawmakers do not handle our money very well. Changing the tax code will not fix the structural flaws with our state’s finances or reform the main cost-drivers, unfunded pension liabilities and government employee health costs. These two items have led state funding to increase 48 percent faster than Illinoisans’ personal income in the past decade.
The question we should be asking is, “Do I trust Illinois politicians to make a concerted effort to reduce spending and pay down out deficit?” If the answer is “no,” then this proposed tax increase will not be the last one we see. And, the next one will happen without a vote by anyone but the politicians. This proposed amendment to the state Constitution, if passed, would essentially take away the voters’ input on any subsequent tax increases.
Don’t think it can’t happen! I’m voting “no”! Vote!