Madigan, House Democrats Call for Fair Tax that Eases the Burden on the Middle Class

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, House Democrats and advocates for the middle class are calling out Gov. Bruce Rauner and Republicans for refusing to consider fair tax reform that would provide relief for the middle class while making the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share.

Madigan and Democratic lawmakers from across the state introduced House Resolution 1025 Wednesday, challenging Republican lawmakers to stop protecting millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations and instead work with Democrats to enact a fair system that cuts taxes on middle-class and low-income taxpayers. Rauner and legislative Republicans are defending a status quo that allows Rauner to pay at least $5 million less than he would in a state like Iowa.

“Governor Rauner is willfully misleading taxpayers because he doesn’t want anyone to see that he’s blocking tax relief for the middle class, all in an effort to protect a special deal for millionaires and billionaires like himself,” Madigan said. “Today, we set the record straight: A fair tax for Illinois is about putting more money in the pockets of middle-class families. If our Republican colleagues are serious about cutting taxes, creating jobs, and strengthening our economy, they will join us in creating a fair tax system that rewards families who work hard and play by the rules, instead of one that benefits Bruce Rauner, Donald Trump and their billionaire friends.”

Madigan’s resolution cites findings from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy that Illinois’ constitutionally mandated “flat tax” is one of the most regressive tax structures in the country, forcing low- and middle-income residents to pay a larger share of their incomes in taxes than the very wealthy. A taxpayer earning less than $19,000 pays 13.2 percent of their income in state taxes, while those with an income of $498,000 pay only 4.6 percent of their income in taxes.

House Democrats are calling for a progressive tax like those currently in place in 33 other states—including Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri and Indiana—which would put more money in working families’ pockets, allowing them to reinvest in local economies and stimulate business growth and economic development.

“There’s no excuse for the current tax system that forces struggling families to pay more than the very wealthy,” said Roberta Lynch, executive director of AFSCME Council 31. “Illinois working families need fair tax reform. By standing in the way, Governor Rauner and the politicians who follow him are protecting a status quo full of loopholes for those who are already at the top.”

“Last year Democrats and Republicans stood together because they knew we cannot continue to follow Bruce Rauner’s agenda of slashing critical services for our communities so his billionaire and millionaire buddies can get a tax cut,” said Greg Kelley, president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois. “Their votes to end the Rauner budget crisis were votes to put middle-class families ahead of the ultra-wealthy. Now we need a tax system that reflects this same value. I applaud House Democrats’ stand for a fairer system, and we look forward to working with them to get a progressive income tax passed in the future.”

“Throughout our state, parents who want their children to receive a world-class education and homeowners who want relief from rising property taxes can agree on one thing: the system is unfair and needs to change,” said Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and a high school English teacher. “This is the change we need, and this is the opportunity for all who claim they’re on the side of taxpayers and educators to prove it.”

“As Donald Trump stacks the deck even more in favor of the ultra-wealthy, Governor Rauner and his allies can no longer pretend to stand with the middle class while also protecting a tax system that so clearly reinforces inequality,” said Clem Balanoff, chair of Our Revolution Illinois. “If they are ready to build an Illinois that works for everyone instead of just the top 1 percent, they will stand with us to enact a fair tax system that reflects that.”