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Illinois voters must support a graduated income tax in November

Legislators have not been honest about the cost of services that citizens want and the need to increase taxes to fund those services. And they have underfunded pensions, increasing our pension debt.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveils his graduated income tax plan during a press conference in the governor’s office at the Illinois State Capitol on March 7, 2019.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveils his graduated income tax plan during a press conference in the governor’s office at the Illinois State Capitol on March 7, 2019.
Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP

Numbers don’t lie. COVID-19 has had a disastrous impact on the Illinois economy. The state had reduced its carry-over deficit from over $15 billion at the end of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s term to somewhat over $8 billion last year. Since the pandemic, revenue is way down and Illinois has had to borrow $5 billion this year to meet existing obligations. By July 1, 2021, the deficit will be over $13 billion and without new revenue it will continue to grow.

For the past 20 years, legislators of both parties have not been honest about the cost of services that citizens want. They have not told the people that we need to increase taxes to fund these services. And they borrowed from the state’s pension systems by underfunding them, thus increasing the pension debt.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be approximately 350 words or less.

Illinois has a number of alternatives. One solution could be to substantially cut services. A second would be to increase the flat tax rate from the current 4.95% to 6% or beyond. But the flat tax rate means that low wage earners pay a greater percentage of their income in taxes than those who are higher wage earners, which exacerbates racial and income inequality. Illinois is one of only a handful of states with a flat income tax.

The third alternative is to begin taxing all or part of retirement income. Such an idea is not popular, but neither are the first two options.

The proposed progressive income tax will raise taxes on only about 3% of the population, those making over $250,000. As incomes rise, this tax will generate more revenue, and so revenue has a chance of keeping pace with the increasing costs of services. Such a tax will begin, albeit slowly, to address income disparity. And the risk of future tax rate increases will be no more than already exists.

The citizens of Illinois need to support a progressive income tax or be prepared to see a substantial increase in the flat tax or a huge cut in services.

I urge you to vote yes for a progressive income tax in November.

Addison Woodward, Streeterville

Sports is about more than ball games

Am I missing something?

When I read Antonio Acevedo’s Aug. 30 letter against pro athletes who boycotted games, the first word that came to mind was, “Really!” How tone deaf and selfish his letter comes across.

Hopefully, he read Neil Steinberg’s column in Monday’s paper — sports is about more than playing ball games. The fact that the Jacob Blake tragedy is still under investigation and the entire truth not yet being known is not the point. The video did not lie. Mr. Acevedo somehow thinks there may be some justification for the police officer shooting an unarmed man in the back seven times?

Every American has a right to protest and stand up for their beliefs. Athletes are not here just for entertainment. They pay taxes, vote and have the same rights as each of us to speak out against injustice and have a platform to do so. There are many other activities available to forget about our fears.

Maybe volunteer at a hospital and help those patients who are sick and recuperating. Volunteer at a church or community center and help those in need. Or maybe take time to read the Bible and learn about how to cope with fear.

Kim Foster, South Loop

None of Trump’s business

President Trump keeps criticizing mayors and governors (all Democrats) for how they deal with looters and vandals. When last I heard, their jurisdictions were functioning democracies. It seems to me that the issue is between public officials and voters. The voters can decide, based on events occurring in their back yards that affect their lives, whether to retain the management or to replace it.

Under the First Amendment, the president has the same right to comment as anybody else, but he has no standing in the discussion beyond that. He is, sometimes, thousands of miles away. In addition to being unlikely to know much detail about the local situation, he is also unlikely to have any interest in the situation at all, absent a hoped-for opportunity to make political points.

Curt Fredrikson, Mokena