Rep. Bailey: The Progressive Punishment Tax is WRONG for Illinois!

Written by State Representative Darren Bailey

In addition to the candidates on the November 3rd ballot is an important issue that will have a far-reaching impact on Illinois. Voters will be asked to consider changing Illinois’ income tax from a flat tax to a graduated or “progressive” tax.

The Democrats have labeled it the “Fair Tax” and it is a fraud. When we consider the arguments and promises tied to the previous two massive state income tax increases, we can conclude when it comes to politics, there’s never a “money back guarantee.”  It’s more like “buyer beware.”

To emphasize this last point, you should know that under the proposed constitutional change, income tax rates and income levels would be subject to change at the whim of Springfield politicians.  That’s a recipe for disaster, and that’s exactly what happened to taxpayers in Connecticut.  As noted in recent research by the Illinois Policy Institute, Connecticut lawmakers sold the progressive or graduated income tax change by promising tax relief for the middle class, lower property taxes and making the state more financially sound.  However, those promises were never kept, and Connecticut families were hit with repeated tax hikes in the years following the tax change.  Considering the promises and management track record of Illinois politicians, Illinois’ working families are likely to experience the same outcome.

If approved, this change will further harm the finances of Illinois families and damage our already-fragile state economy.

The majority Democrat Party’s arguments about fairness, addressing a budget crisis, and promises of protection for lower-income families ring hollow when you consider their track record.

Democrats call it the “Fair Tax,” but it’s really a Progressive Punishment Tax, because their plan imposes different tax rates for people based on their income level. The more successful you are, the bigger your tax punishment will be. Do grocery stores, gas stations, or restaurants base their prices on how much their customers earn? No!  Why should income taxes be different?

Under our current flat tax rate structure, everyone pays the same rate. The more you earn, the more you pay; the less you earn, the less you pay. True fairness is paying the same rate – not imposing higher rates on some people and lower rates on others.

The Democrat’s so-called “Fair Tax” is really their Failure Tax. It’s an admission they failed to solve Illinois’ fiscal problems with two previous income tax hikes in 2011 and 2017.

According to the General Assembly’s own Commission on Government Forecasting and Accounting, Illinois taxpayers paid an additional $53 billion in taxes as a result of the 2011 and 2017 state income tax hikes.

The tax increases were and remain a huge burden on middleclass working families, not only because of the taxes they have to pay, but the economic drain it places on employers who have fewer dollars to invest and hire, which hurts our state economy and job opportunities.  Perhaps more damaging is government’s insatiable appetite to grow and expand.  Our children and grandchildren are being left with a terrible future debt burden because state government continues to spend beyond the ability of today’s generation to pay for it.  Government should operate with the same financial principles families and businesses follow to avoid financial failure.  In other words, spend less and live within its means.

The fact remains all that new money Illinois received since 2011 did nothing to reverse the state’s fiscal problems.  What is threatening to drive Illinois off the fiscal cliff is years of mismanagement and overspending. It’s NOT because Illinois is short on tax dollars.

When the majority party argued for those tax hikes they promised the state would pay off its overdue bills, balance the budget, and create jobs. They promised prosperity, but they never delivered.  Now, the same politicians are back in our collective face wanting more.

Recently, the Governor warned that without the Progressive Punishment Tax, there will be severe cuts to the state budget.  He gave a similar warning earlier this year during his budget address, saying changing how the state income tax is assessed would account for about $1.4 billion of the budget he signed into law.  Over the years, Republicans warned repeatedly about how overspending and job-killing taxes and regulations would harm middleclass working families, but we were ignored.  Alternative budget plans to get Illinois out of debt were offered, but ignored.

If tax increases were the solution to Illinois government’s fiscal problems, we would be one of the most financially healthy states in the Union. Remember these words when you consider the November 3rd ballot question:

“People try to live within their income, so they can afford to pay taxes to a government that can’t live within its income.” (Robert Half (1919 – 2001) American businessman, founder of a now worldwide human resource consulting firm bearing his name.)

While true, it’s also fundamentally unfair to every taxpayer.  Unfortunately, what we continue to see from state government is a crass point of view that asks, “How big can we make government and how much money can we extract from taxpayers?”

What Illinois government needs is a 12-step plan of recovery from its addiction to overspending. The first step is admitting there’s a problem.  It’s the most important and most difficult step to take.  Defeating the November 3rd ballot question, changing the state income tax, could be just what Illinois government needs to finally face reality and begin respecting the taxpayers of Illinois.


State Representative Darren Bailey (R-109) and his wife Cindy reside in rural Louisville and have 4 children and 9 grandchildren. Rep. Darren has spent his entire life farming in Clay and surrounding counties growing corn, soybeans, and wheat. He is also involved in trucking and excavating. The Bailey’s also founded Full Armor Christian Academy in Louisville. Darren has IFA’s full endorsement as he runs for Illinois Senate in the 55th District.