Live Updates: Elections 2020 In Illinois

Illinois Voters Reject Income Tax Measure

Gov. JB Pritzker
Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker pushed hard for a ballot proposal that would have allowed Illinois to switch from a flat tax to a graduated income tax. Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP, Pool / Associated Press

Proponents of moving Illinois to a graduated income tax system admitted voters defeated their ballot measure this morning.

The Associated Press said a proposed constitutional amendment to move Illinois to a graduated income tax has failed, with 55% of voters against it.

Quentin Fulks, chairman of the Vote Yes For Fairness committee that fought for the amendment’s passage, released a statement expressing his disappointment in the results.

“Republican legislators and their billionaire allies who brought us the dysfunction and pain of the [former Gov. Bruce] Rauner years continue to stand in the way of common sense solutions, choosing instead to play partisan games and deceive the working families of our state,” Fulks said. “Now lawmakers must address a multibillion dollar budget gap without the ability to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share. Fair Tax opponents must answer for whatever comes next.”

The proposal would have taxed people based on their income, rather than the current flat tax rate. Lawmakers approved companion legislation to the amendment that would have taxed income in excess of $250,000 at a substantially higher rate than anything less than that.

Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker, who won election in 2018 while advocating for a graduated income tax, has warned residents that without the amendment’s adoption, the options for confronting the state’s massive budget hole is cuts or an increase in the flat 4.95% income tax.

He’s called on Congress to send financial support to states that are seeing massive budget holes due to the COVID-19 pandemic and he’s asked his administration to consider 5% cuts across the board.

Well-funded groups that fought the initiative questioned if voters trusted state officials to spend the more than $3 billion annually the measure was expected to raise.