By: Mark Glennon*

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but something curious is going on with the Fair Tax proposal – the constitutional amendment on the ballot in the coming election to permit a progressive tax increase.

It’s that Democratic lawmakers, who want a Yes vote, have gone mostly silent.

Support for the Fair Tax splits on party lines among candidates and incumbent General Assembly members, with Republicans opposed. Most lawmakers from both parties are out campaigning for reelection now, so the silence of the Democrats certainly seems to tell us that they are getting an earful about higher taxes.

Sure, Democrats may have something supportive on their web pages or in Facebook, but they have gotten mighty shy about writing or talking about it and the $3.1 billion tax increase that would follow. The only exception I have seen is Sen. Don Harmon, from ultra-left Oak Park.

Republicans, on the other hand, are pounding away in opposition.

With no recent, public polls to consider, that may be the best indication we have of what voters think. The last polling indication we got was almost three weeks ago, when Crain’s reported on a private poll indicating that the amendment was already on the edge, and sentiment against it seems to have grown since then. Less scientific, online polls in mid-October run by the Herald-Review and Pantagraph both showed more than two to one opposing.

Why?

From comments we see it’s primarily that more Illinoisans have finally realized they can’t trust Springfield with more money. Fear that the amendment will make it easier to pass further tax increases including a tax on retirement income is also strong – and justified.

And with “No more money for you” seeming to be the message, that means voters aren’t buying supporters’ claims that there is no alternative to tax increases. Voters must know there is an alternative: reforms. They want the underlying problems fixed.

The biggest of those underlying problems fueling the appetite for more tax money is pensions. Informed voters know that, and they also know that meaningful pension reform requires a constitutional amendment to the pension protection clause. The wrong amendment is on the ballot, in other words.

Wirepoints has laid out in detail how a constitutional amendment for pension reform can work. Our report includes specifics on how Illinois could, through that process, save more than the initial revenue claimed by Fair Tax supporters, without undue hardship on pensioners.

Illinoisans of all stripes are no doubt tired of being ignored on other reforms they’ve long wanted. Fair maps and term limits have, for years, had strong, bipartisan support in Illinois, but lawmakers will have none of that or any number of other reforms that are long overdue.

The biggest financial priority, however, is pension reform. We’d love to see candidates ask this at their campaign events: Which amendment should be on the ballot, the progressive tax increase or pension reform? The silence of Fair Tax supporters tell us why they aren’t asking.

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.

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Fred
25 days ago

Few can fool all of the people all of the time. Hopefully this is the election year when the voters have caught on. Both nationally and in Illinois. It’s time for the nationwide elimination of parasites including but not limited to The Virus and the government workers and retirees whose inflated and distorted sense of entitlement needs to be corrected via a dramatic deflation of their expectations. Truth and Reconciliation for these folks may take longer than average but teachers could get started during the summer.

Poor Taxpayer
27 days ago

There never will be a pension amendment.
There will always be tax increases, huge tax increases.
History always repeats itself.

Juicy Smollier
27 days ago
Reply to  Poor Taxpayer

It’s pretty obvious that you are correct. The funny thing is that the city will lose at least a decade because as you say, they will absolutely raise more taxes and cut services to boot. I don’t think people realize how many more avenues that they actually do have to increase taxes (see my comment on city wage taxes which northeastern cities have been using for decades now). The funniest part is that you will pay higher taxes and they’ll keep these lockdowns and restrictions up. I’m moving out anyway, but in reality it has far more to do with… Read more »

28 days ago

What if all Illinoisians went on a tax strike? How would you organize it?

Juicy Smollier
27 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Carter

This will happen sooner than people think.

Poor Taxpayer
27 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Carter

No such thing, they just take your house or business away.

Being Had
28 days ago

I think the proponents of the so-called Fair Tax, who aren’t seeking office, are in Michigan, Wisconsin, and perhaps Iowa to encourage those residents to vote against Trump. This is my first guess at what is preoccupying the northern Illinois coalition.

With Pritzker getting elected on a promise to raise taxes, proponents of the tax may be taking its passage for granted.

Ex Illini
28 days ago

Griffin gave another $7 million to the cause. He almost ended up matching Pritzker’s total contribution. Hopefully this means a strong last minute push to properly reflect the “fair” tax as nothing more than a scam. Keep hammering on the trust issues. A defeat on this could signal to Pritzker that expenditures are going to have to be cut as part of the budget solution. Time for him to take one on the chins.

28 days ago
Reply to  Ex Illini

If it passes, he will move his residency, and entire business to Florida. Watch.

Poor Taxpayer
27 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Carter

Lots of others have done it before him.

Related by marriage
28 days ago
Reply to  Ex Illini

Chins…..

Poor Taxpayer
29 days ago

Laughing all the way to the bank.

Ned Ledderbedder
29 days ago

I have been hearing for years how difficult it is to have an Illinois Constitutional Amendment placed on the ballot, specifically Illinois pension reform. Now there have been 2 in four years. I can see why it’s so difficult. Let’s gut the non-essential state employees receiving pay while at home.

Joey Zamboni
29 days ago

*Reform* has become as toxic as an (R) after someones name here in IL…

Most blue states too, I imagine…

Illinois Entrepreneur
29 days ago

Democrats keep doing this because there have been no consequences for increasing spending, raising taxes, implementing regulations, etc. Rauner put his foot down with 44 reforms (all of which I liked) and Democrats refused to budge on any of them. They rightfully knew that the voters here were gullible enough to blame Rauner and give the Democrats a supermajority in the legislature, along with the governorship back. The voters basically said, “Tax us and do what you want” when they elected Democrats after that whole farce with Rauner. If voters had held ground with Rauner, Democrats would have capitulated and… Read more »

Gary Rabine
29 days ago

Mark,
We have a new study that will be revealed by two great American economist Steve Moore and Art Laffer tomorrow night at Bull Valley Golf Club.
The results this study shows tell the story of how this FAT TAX will destroy Illinois economy much further than our already highest property taxes and all other TAX THEFT in our state have already.

NoHope4Illinois
29 days ago
Reply to  Gary Rabine

Wish that event was streamed. Sounds like a great evening! Bull Valley is very nice to. Good luck!

NB-Chicago
29 days ago

I think our side could put out some last minite adds warning voters fair tax amendment changes constitution allowing income to be taxed MULTIPLE TIMES including at local/municiple levels. I think this is possibly far more frightening than a graduate rate taxation.

Old Spartan
29 days ago

TRS management and board are obviously in the tank for the Governor. Remember– half of the members of the board are appointed by the Gov, and the other half elected by the IEA. It is unconscionable for a pension fund to support a tax increase that will certainly lead to taxation of retirement benefits indirectly.

Gary
29 days ago

Both of my parents are retired TRS recipients and both have voted No! They said the documentation they have received from TRS sugguests a ‘Yes’ vote, but I’ve sent them a lot of articles about what the amendment really does and the fact that their retirements could become subjected to retirement tax, it was pretty easy for them to see what the misinformation being spread. My brother inlaw is current teacher and he too voted No. I’m impressed with the few examples in my personal family who would typically vote Yes, voting NO!

Susan
29 days ago

Isn’t it a big advantage to tax referendum proponents if fewer people cast a vote (either way) on ballot?

On McHenry County computer (early) voting ballot, the first page is the referendum question, but the bottom is cut off. Voter has to know to click
“more” in order to get the last paragraph of referendum propaganda and the boxes to check “yes” or “no”.
I believe it is confusing and easy to “pass” the question altogether.

nixit
29 days ago
Reply to  Susan

A non-vote is a small advantage for the NO side as it raises the threshold of passage if that threshold falls between 50 and 60 percent. But make no mistake, we want as many NO votes as we can get.

Susan
29 days ago
Reply to  nixit

A non-vote is a HUGE advantage! It lowers threshold for passage by 20% !

The Truth Hurts
29 days ago
Reply to  Susan

You have it reversed Susan. Let’s say 5 million ballots are in this election. If there is no undervote then the YES vote would only need 50% plus one vote to get it to pass or 2.5 million plus 1. Let’s say 20% skip the question and 5 million ballots are cast so only 4 million votes are recorded for the CA. In this case in order to pass you would need 60% of the people that voted on the initiative or 2.4 million plus 1. Sure that’s 100k less votes to pass but you needed to reach the 60%… Read more »

Last edited 29 days ago by The Truth Hurts
nixit
29 days ago

Full explanation is below, but if the drop-off rate (those skipping the question) is 17%, then 60% is needed to pass. I would expect the drop-off rate to be between 5-10%, meaning somewhere in the 52-55% will be needed to pass.

https://illinoiselectiondata.com/index.php?Title=What-Will-It-Take-To-Pass-the-Graduated-Income-Tax&p=1548

The Truth Hurts
29 days ago
Reply to  nixit

Thank nixit. Your link reminded me about the 2012 Pension amendment that was on the ballot. That amendment didn’t even reduce pension cost. The only thing it tried to do was require 3/5 approval (instead of simple majority) of the legislature if they wanted to INCREASE pension benefits. The whole point was to make it more difficult in the future to increase benefits and it still didn’t pass.

Susan
28 days ago
Reply to  nixit

Thank you for explanation. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but was assuming that those intent on passing this initiative would be educated to vote (yes) while those who might vote no but weren’t well informed would be confused and skip the actual voting boxes on that question.

Juicy Smollier
27 days ago
Reply to  Susan

Ok, so what do they think the dropoff rate will be this time? I have a feeling that they won’t get 50% regardless on this one, but it totally irks me: Since amendments are supposed to be hard to pass and should have clear backing of the people, why is anything BUT 60% to pass considered? That other measure (50% of all ballots cast?) is a bunch of hooey.

Last edited 27 days ago by Juicy Smollier
NoHope4Illinois
29 days ago

People see the fraud of Pritzker with the virus – He can’t be trusted.

PensionActuary1058
29 days ago

Great analysis. Most of my friends who live in Lincoln Park and Lakeview and are staunch Biden/Durbin voters are voting no. This is anecdotal but still interesting.

nixit
29 days ago

Passage is dependent on Suburban Democrats. If enough Biden voters in Cook and the collar counties vote NO, it can be defeated.

Anecdotally, around half the Biden voters in my social circle are voting NO. They are moderate Dems tired of the woke parade.