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Pritzker’s dangerous new tax is like giving a kid a blank check in a candy store

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker unveils his graduated income tax plan during a press conference in the governor's office at the Illinois State Capitol, Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Springfield, Ill. (Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP) ORG XMIT: ILSPR107

Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveils his graduated income tax plan during a press conference in the governor's office at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield earlier this month. | Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP

Would you trust a 5-year old with a blank check in a candy store?

As Monday is Tax Day, keep the answer to that question in mind and also ponder Gov. J.B. Pritzker and House Speaker Michael J. Madigan’s recent push for a massive change to Illinois’ tax structure — because that’s essentially what will happen if they get their way.

OPINION

Except in real life, it won’t be M&M’s and Skittles. They will have a blank check to spend your hard-earned tax dollars. It will allow more spending to fund all of the governor’s pet projects, including the $2 billion in additional spending he’s already racked up.

Pritzker and Madigan’s latest scheme is to pass a constitutional amendment giving them authority to raise our taxes so they can fix all of our state’s problems. That’s right: new roads, better schools, balanced budgets and even fix our pension system. All we have to do is trust them with a blank check.

Sound familiar?

In the last eight years alone, the politicians in Springfield have spent wildly and then gone back to the voters and said: “Trust us, just one more tax increase.”

And what did middle-class families get? Two of the largest tax hikes in Illinois history, and we are still billions of dollars in debt. Our roads are not any better, our schools lack adequate funding, pensions are billions of dollars in the hole and we are light years from a balanced budget.

The governor’s spin is that it’s a “fair tax.” Polling shows that voters are finding that difficult to believe. Interestingly, it would appear the governor himself is having a hard time believing that it’s fair, admitting to the Sun-Times last week that there is a swear jar in his office for those who don’t call it a “fair tax,” and saying he is the biggest offender.

There must be a better way.

That is why citizens and groups from across the state are uniting in opposition to what we are calling the Jobs Tax. It’s called a Jobs Tax because it will crush middle-class families and run jobs out of Illinois quicker than that 5-year-old can buy out the candy store.

Connecticut, the most recent state to enact a similar Jobs Tax, has seen income tax rates on typical households rise by more than 13 percent. That’s a far cry from Pritzker’s claim that only 3 percent of Illinoisans will shoulder the burden of his proposal.

In February, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was crying to anyone who would listen because state revenues were down by billions of dollars. The reason? Their Jobs Tax was doing what most expected — driving job creators out of the state. And, now that they have chased their job creators out of the state — one guess as to who ultimately will pick up that tab.

It won’t be the politicians in Albany.

Don’t forget about our job creators. Illinois’ largest job creators — small businesses — would suffer most. According to the Illinois Policy Institute, small businesses in 2017 generated 70 percent of all new jobs in Illinois. Nearly a third of small businesses would suffer under this tax. The Pritzker/Madigan Jobs Tax, as proposed, would cost Illinois 30,400 jobs and $11.2 billion in lost economic activity.

As we come to yet another day where we hand Uncle Sam more tax dollars, it’s pretty simple. Passing a Jobs Tax is essentially allowing politicians to put the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent when it comes to giving them a blank check with setting tax rates for middle class families.

At least with kids in a candy store, unlike Springfield politicians, there’s a fighting chance they’ll keep their spending to whatever they can stuff in their pockets.

Greg Baise is chairman of Ideas Illinois, an initiative of The Coalition for Jobs, Growth and Prosperity. The coalition is committed to improving and growing Illinois’ economy by promoting free-market principles anchored in a reasonable and predictable tax system.

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