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Republicans Demand Pritzer’s Tax Details

Illinois Republicans are demanding that Democratic candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker provide details about his progressive income tax plan before early voting starts for the November election.

Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti held a news conference in Peoria on Wednesday to call on Pritzker to release details about his plan to change the state’s flat income tax to one that charges more based on level of income.

Pritzker consistently has been silent about what he would propose as far as rates he would support if a graduated tax became constitutional. His common answer to repeated questions from reporters is that he would “work with the legislature” to set rates that would be appropriate at that time.

Sanguinetti highlighted a plan by state Rep. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, that would be a tax increase on anyone who made more than $17,300. Martwick’s plan has gotten a lot of attention but didn’t go anywhere in Springfield. To date, there has not been another bill that stated specific rates or income levels for a progressive tax.

The GOP has pounced on Pritzker’s reluctance to say how much he would have to raise taxes and on what income levels to pay for his other proposals to increase spending.

“Time and time again, he’s told the people of our state that he’ll merely rely upon the wisdom of our legislature for guidance on that graduated income tax hike,” Sanguinetti said while flanked by local Republicans at the event.

“We are chasing wealth out of our state,” said state Sen. Chuck Weaver, R-Peoria. “This tax increase is going to apply to teachers, plumbers and the guy who mows your yard.”

Pritzker’s campaign would not respond to requests for comment but called the GOP news conference “Rauner’s Veto Distraction Tour,” referring to a number of bills the governor vetoed recently.

Public polling on a progressive tax in Illinois has been mixed, based in part on how the question was posed.

A poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University showed nearly three-quarters of those asked support a tax that “would be lower for lower-income taxpayers and higher for upper-income taxpayers.” A poll from the nonprofit Illinois Policy Institute asked if they would support a tax that “would result in single filers earning over $17,300 to pay more in taxes,” and support drops to 14 percent.