SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — It’s down to the wire in Springfield, where legislators have until next Friday to pass Governor J.B. Pritzker’s legislative wishlist including an income tax constitutional amendment, expansion of gambling, recreational marijuana and infrastructure.
So far the big-ticket items have not reached the governor’s desk.
The full House is set to consider Governor Pritzker’s proposal to move Illinois from a flat income tax system to a graduated one, which the Senate passed early this month on a party-line vote. For the proposal to effect, voters would need to approve it on the November 2020 ballot.
Republican lawmakers oppose the plan, and on Wednesday used a blank check prop to warn that a graduate tax system will open the door to massive tax increases in the future.
"With the already heavy tax burden residents of Illinois are carrying, signing over a blank check to the Democrats is not something I can do and I won’t do," said State Rep. Dan Ugaste (R-St. Charles).
"The reality is our taxes continue to rise but the underlying financial problems continue to get worse," said State Rep. Blaine Wilhour (R- Effingham).
Also on the governor’s wish list: large-scale infrastructure improvement to roads, bridges and public school and university buildings. To pay for it, Illinoisans would be hit with new taxes on everything from streaming services and ridesharing to a hike at the gas pump.
"This is an over $40 billion tax hike. This would be the biggest tax hike Illinois has ever seen," said Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R- Algonquin).
Also on Wednesday, gun control advocates left Chicago en route to Springfield to urge lawmakers to approve new gun licensing legislation. They want people applying for or renewing a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card to submit fingerprints with their application. Plus, they’re pushing to extend background checks to private sales.
Lawmakers are also considering the legalization of sports betting and of recreational marijuana. It’s an ambitious to-do list with only 9 days left in session.
So far none of these big-ticket items have passed both chambers and made it to the governor’s desk. We should also mention Springfield has not yet passed a budget.