Crain’s today has a guest opinion article supporting a progressive income tax in Illinois. It’s by Tasha Green Cruzat, president of Voices for Illinois Children.
It’s shamelessly dishonest — another claim that a progressive income tax is our panacea.
Cruzat got the premise right:
Given the state’s pension obligations, debt service and pledge to increase school funding by $3.5 billion over the next 10 years, the state is not taking in the revenue needed to meet its current obligations. That’s without expanding the availability of child care, fully funding higher education or curtailing the diversion of 10 percent of the funds previously going to local governments and transit districts.
And the answer, she says, is the progressive tax:
If Illinois adopts a fairer tax system, we will be able to fund the services all Illinoisans need, pay our current bills and protect our children’s future while providing tax relief for over 90 percent of Illinois taxpayers. It’s the only option that can raise the needed revenue without placing any additional burden on middle-class and working families.
Get off it. Voices for Children is a member of the Responsible Budget Coalition, which Cruzat cites approvingly, and their progressive income tax proposal would raise only $2 billion per year (initially — not accounting for further flight from the state). That’s the same revenue estimate made by the Center for Budget and Tax Accountability for its progressive tax proposal.
That wouldn’t even cover the additional $3.5 billion per year pledged by the state under the new school funding formula, which Voices for Children also supported. Two billion dollars would barely dent our problems, as we’ve detailed earlier. That’s why she put no revenue estimate in her article.
The central problem is that the basic math is just nonsense. You can’t give a tax cut to 99% of Illlinoisans and slam just the top 1% for all our problems, as they claim they could. The numbers are impossible.
Cruzat writes that we opponents are using questions about rates and income brackets to to obscure the fundamental question about whether our current taxes are fair and sufficient.
Yeah, well, it’s those “details,” as she calls them, that expose the dishonesty of her claims.
Cruzat says 70% of Illinoisans support a progressive tax.
If that’s true, it’s because they are being lied to.
-Mark Glennon is founder and Executive Editor of Wirepoints.