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home : news : state news free May 24, 2019

4/4/2019 12:27:00 PM
Another dark money group, Illinois Policy, launches anti-graduated tax TV ads
Jerry Nowicki
Capitol News Illinois

SPRINGFIELD  Another dark money organization has joined the television advertising mix in opposition to a graduated tax proposed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Illinois Policy, a 501(c)4 organization which is the advocacy wing of the conservative research group Illinois Policy Institute, launched an ad entitled "You're Rich" in the Champaign, Springfield and Decatur markets with planned runs through April 12.

In the ad, an accented narrator speaks over video of two grinning men in a sports car and states "Illinois politicians say they want a new tax on the rich."

As the camera pans to a woman in an old, dented car, the narrator claims Illinois' spending promises "mean raising taxes on the average family by up to $3,500 per year."

While the ad offers no explanation for that claim, Austin Berg, Illinois Policy's director of content strategy, said the $3,500 number references the amount needed to cover Democratic spending promises which were discussed on campaign trails but are not written into law.

Per the only plan on the table, only earners whose income exceeds $250,000 would see their taxes increase. Per Pritzker's estimates, fewer than 20,000 Illinoisans earning more than $1 million annually would provide $2.7 billion of an estimated $3.4 billion in added revenue by paying a flat rate of 7.95 percent on all income.

For all other earners, different rates ranging from 4.75 percent to 7.85 percent would apply to five different margins of income: a 4.75 percent rate from $0 to $10,000; a 4.9 percent rate from $10,001 to $100,000; a 4.95 percent rate from $100,001 and $250,000; a 7.75 percent rate from $250,001 and $500,000; and a 7.85 percent between $500,001 and $1 million.

But Berg said the initial rates touted by Pritzker are a "dishonest attempt" to "slide through" the graduated plan should a constitutional amendment pass, and nothing would stop legislators from raising rates in the future.

Democrats have said they would have to raise the flat rate from its current 4.95 percent rate to 6.95 percent in order to raise the revenue brought in by the graduated plan should it fail, and it would take only simple majorities in each chamber and a signature from the governor to do so.

Berg said neither is a good option, and the Democratic supermajorities' time would be better served reforming pension systems.

Ideas Illinois, a business-tied conservative 501(c)4 group that is opposed to the graduated tax, announced an extension of its ad campaign this week as well.

Their two new spots target Democratic Rep. Jerry Costello of Smithton and Republican Rep. Terri Bryant of Murphysboro, portraying them as "trustworthy" and asking them to oppose the "permanent jobs tax" of "Springfield insiders."

Think Big Illinois, a 501(c)4 group which Pritzker has admitted donating to, has been on the airwaves promoting the graduated tax since late March.

In a press statement, Think Big's executive director and former Pritzker campaign staffer Quentin Fulks said "Ideas Illinois is at it again in their latest attempt to use 'classic fear-mongering techniques' to ensure the wealthiest Illinoisans avoid paying their fair share."

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