The Way Forward in Illinois


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Last week saw the conclusion to a bruising Democratic primary in the campaign for Illinois Governor. Both Democratic candidates, incumbent Governor Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes, had plans for shoring up the state's long- and short-term fiscal crisis. Governor Quinn put forward a plan to raise the existing income tax rate of 3 percent to 4.5 percent and to increase the value of personal and dependent exemptions from $2,000 to $6,000. His plan would generate roughly $3 billion per year. Comptroller Hynes proposed a rate structure that would leave the present 3 percent rate in place for all taxpayers with incomes below $200,000 but that would impose rates ranging from 3.5 percent to 7.5 percent on incomes above that amount, with the highest rate applying solely to income in excess of $1 million.

A recent report from ITEP describes both candidates' income tax reform proposals and argues that a combination of the two plans would be ideal. Governor Quinn narrowly beat Hynes in the primary and, assuming he wins the election, there is real hope that fundamental tax reform in Illinois is not just possible, but likely.

Quinn and Hynes are not alone in their commitment to progressive tax policy. A bipartisan task force on Illinois property taxes recently recommended several policy options that could be combined with proposals that Quinn supports. The task force's recent report suggests rebalancing the state's revenue sources, consolidating government services and functions, and enhancing the circuit breaker program.

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