ILLINOIS — Gov. J.B. Pritzker used his daily coronavirus briefing Wednesday to lash out at Republicans who led the successful opposition to his administration’s proposed “fair tax” constitutional amendment.
With 98 percent of the vote counted by Wednesday morning, "no" votes were leading with 55 percent of the vote compared with 45 percent of "yes" votes.
Pritzker conceded defeat in his bid to create a graduated income tax, but he accused some Republicans on Wednesday of selling out to millionaires and billionaires in the state.
“You deserved a fairer tax system and you still do. But that didn’t happen,” Pritzker said. “Republicans swore their allegiance to the wealthiest interests in the state, and they threw middle-class families under the bus.”
“The opponents of the fair tax lied about what would happen if it passed, and they left all of the working people of Illinois holding the bag,” Pritzker said. “It’s no surprise — these are the same people who pushed for (former Gov.) Bruce Rauner’s agenda and will resurrect his failed crusade any way they can.”
The governor has said 97 percent of Illinois residents to stood to see a tax cut if the proposal passed, while Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider called it a “tax hike gambit” on Election Night.
Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Maisch said in a statement Wednesday that “Illinoisans do not trust this Legislature and this administration to spend more of their precious tax dollars without restraint.”
"We believe we're on our way to hearing from the electorate that Illinois needs a lot more than tax increases to fix our economy,” Maisch said. “While it may not be official this morning, it certainly looks like Illinoisans have made their voices heard and want a plan for rescuing our state that is not just raise taxes, raise taxes and raise taxes some more."
With a graduated income tax no longer a potential option, Pritzker warned the state will have to cuts its services and funding.
“There will be cuts, and they will be painful,” Pritzker said. “And the worst thing is, the same billionaires who lied to you about the fair tax are more than happy to hurt public schools, shake the foundations of our cities and diminish our state. Maybe because they think it won’t hurt them.”
The "fair tax" amendment, like all constitutional amendments, needed to pass by either 60 percent of votes cast on the ballot measure itself or a simple majority of all of those voting in the election.
The state constitution requires all Illinoisans to pay the same tax rate — currently 4.95 percent — whether they make $20,000 a year or $20 million. The governor's proposed change would have kept the same or lower rates for anyone making less than $250,000 a year and raise them on those making more than that.
The amendment would not directly set tax rates, but would give lawmakers the power to do so.
Prominent opponents of the amendment included hedge fund manager Kenneth Griffin, listed by Forbes as Illinois' richest person, former Illinois Manufacturers Association President Greg Baise, the Illinois Farm Bureau and Illinois Chamber of Commerce.
Pritzker spent about $56 million of his own money to support the proposed amendment, while Griffin spent almost $54 million on opposition efforts, WTTW Chicago reports.