The most important thing on your ballot this year might not even be on your radar. If you’re like me, you’re hearing about the Presidential race all the time. (Don’t get me wrong: that’s super important. But there is not much doubt that Biden will easily carry Illinois.)
The Fair Tax constitutional amendment has not gotten nearly as much attention. You have probably seen — and maybe skipped — short ads on YouTube and other social media, and maybe some TV ads.
But considering the Fair Tax is an opportunity to make the tax system fairer, increase funding to CPS and all Illinois public schools, reduce taxes for almost all of us, and get Illinois on the path to fiscal stability, it deserves more than a 30-second ad spot.
Our current flat income tax is regressive. All of us – from the millionaire to the minimum wage worker – pay 4.95% of our income in State taxes. This system has earned Illinois a place among the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy’s “Terrible Ten” states with the most regressive tax systems.
In Illinois, the poorest 20% of residents pay 14% of their income in State and local taxes while the richest 1% pay only 7%. So even if you think it makes sense for the corporate lawyer and the cashier to pay the same proportion of their income in taxes, the Fair Tax is still good policy. That’s because while the cashier from Hyde Park spends his entire paycheck on rent, utilities, groceries, and other household necessities, the corporate lawyer from the suburbs spends a much smaller amount of her check on those things.
If voters approve the Fair Tax, the good news is we already have a system in place to get the money in a fair way to schools that need it most, like CPS and schools on the South and West Sides. CPS has just 66% of the funding it needs today. With passage of the Fair Tax, Illinois will have funds to allocate to education and that percentage will continue to rise, providing more dollars for a better education to Chicago students.
If we want fully funded schools, we need new State revenue to support it. If we want to do that without hurting working parents and other folks who are already struggling to get by, the Fair Tax is the way to go.
Scott McDonald, Stand for Children Illinois