In a year-end interview with the Associated Press, Governor Pat Quinn has come out again in support of a progressive income tax for Illinois.
Asked if he would push for the proposal to ask voters on the November ballot to approve a graduated, or “progressive,” income tax that would make wealthier people pay a higher rate, Quinn said:
Taxes are never popular but they should be based on ability to pay. I have always favored a system for those who are extremely wealthy, they should not have the same tax rate as a minimum wage worker ... I (worked to) put it on the ballot in the past. That's the only way to accomplish it. The voters have to vote for it.
Proponents for and against a progressive income tax are gearing up for battle, as the issue is expected to be one of the hardest-fought topics on the legislative agenda in 2014.
The Illinois Constitution currently requires a flat income tax, and changing it would require both a three-fifths vote in the state legislature and voter approval. Already, proposed amendments and opposing resolutions have been introduced in both the House and Senate.
Quinn has publicly supported a progressive tax in the past, calling the current tax system “not fair” and “regressive” in his 2011 budget speech.
The question of restructuring the income tax system is taking on greater urgency in light of the expected demise of the state’s temporary income tax hike, due to expire at the end of 2014.
Republican gubernatorial candidates Bruce Rauner and Bill Brady have said they want the temporary increase to expire, while Dan Rutherford and Kirk Dillard haven't ruled out extending the current rate.