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Graduated income tax: Intense debate with three weeks left

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Fair tax or tax hike? That is the question many Illinois voters have heard over the last few months.

Gov. JB Pritzker's cousin, Jennifer Pritzker, donated $500,000 into the campaign against the progressive plan on Tuesday. However, he noted cousins don't agree on everything.

"Let's just be clear, the Fair Tax is about making the system fairer for the middle class and for people striving to get to the middle-class and asking the wealthiest people in the state to pay a little bit more," Pritzker said. "That's why I'm fighting for it."

The governor also promised he will not tax retirement income. However, that has become a hot topic around the ballot question. In June, Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs said a progressive tax could "make clear you can have graduated rates when you are taxing retirement incomes."

The Champaign native later retracted the statement. However, his words have been used in ads against Pritzker's proposal. Frerichs planned to address the issue last week, but he canceled the press conference minutes before it started.

"I oppose creating a retirement tax in Illinois, along with the General Assembly and governor,” Frerichs stated. “I encourage others to join me to stand up for working families and retirees so they get a tax cut while we ask millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. The fact is opponents of the fair tax have actually released plans to tax retirement income and raise taxes on everyone.”

Campaign fights back

Lissa Druss, spokesperson for the Coalition Against the Proposed Tax Hike Amendment, feels that's not the case.

"The Tax Hike Amendment is about giving Springfield Politicians new taxing powers to tax retirement income as Illinois’ State Treasurer made clear in June and raising taxes on middle-class families, small businesses and family farmers."

Pritzker also denied the coalition's statements telling voters this will give lawmakers unlimited power on taxes.

"The existing ability for the General Assembly to raise revenue or to keep revenue the same or decrease revenues in the state, that doesn't change," Pritzker explained. "What does change is whether or not you can ask the wealthiest people in the state to pay a higher rate than those who are middle class and working class."

Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton previously said Illinois may need to raise income taxes on all residents by at least 20%. That's only a possibility if Pritzker's plan fails to get enough support from voters.

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Mike Miletich

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