September 12th, 2017 12:00 PM
By Jim Bowman
At North Side Prep on Kedzie last week (Thursday 9/7), governor-candidate J.B. Pritzker let an interesting cat out of the bag, his plan to circumvent the state's constitutional ban on graduated/progressive income taxation.
He would not try to change the constitution at all, but would raise the presumably flat tax, then give "personal exemptions" to as many as it takes to do graduated/progressive taxation without calling it that.
"I'm running on this," he said, apparently announcing a platform plank. He would do it without resorting to a constitutional convention, where "too many bad things can happen," he told an audience of 40 or so citizens in a meeting hosted by 40th Ward Alderman Patrick O'Connor.
O'Connor had done the same for candidate Chris Kennedy some weeks earlier (7/7), endorsing neither, he said on both occasions.
Pritzker also said:
* He's opposed to taxing stock buying and selling, a "La Salle Street tax," because there's no longer a pit where signals are given but electronic buying and selling, and it's "easy" for them to move out of state.
He wants to keep traders here, because of lost "opportunities to tax their incomes."
* He favors "a public option . . . single-payer" system " for health care. "We can do it," he said. "Allow people to buy into a state health plan. It would not cost the state."
More later on candidate Pritzker in the 40th Ward . . .
Later explanation/clarification from Pritzker campaign: The candidate mentioned and characterized a constitutional convention (wholesale redoing of constitution) in response to a questioner who had raised that issue.
What's at issue is a constitutional amendment (changing one element), which Pritzker favors but which takes a long time. The flat tax increase-with-"personal [tax] exemptions" — to be legislated so as to achieve the goal of graduated rates — was proposed by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) three and a half years ago.
So it's his idea, as Pritzker noted at the September 7 meeting. His spokesperson recommended asking Harmon what these exemptions might entail.
"Gonna need a scorecard pretty soon with all these tax proposals," said a commenter on the Capitol Fax site at the time Harmon announced his plan. It does get complicated.