Union lead­ers vow to cam­paign for ‘Fair Tax’ amend­ment

Chicago Sun-Times - - BUSINESS - BY DAVID ROEDER, BUSI­NESS & LA­BOR RE­PORTER droeder@sun­times.com | @Roed­erDavid

La­bor union lead­ers from through­out Illi­nois spoke out Thurs­day for voter ap­proval of the pro­posed grad­u­ated state in­come tax, say­ing the pan­demic has un­der­scored the need for tax­a­tion that’s fair to work­ing peo­ple.

“Our com­mu­ni­ties have been liv­ing in per­pet­ual crises,” said Greg Kel­ley, pres­i­dent of SEIU Health­care. “We all de­serve a brighter fu­ture, and this is why we need the Fair Tax.”

Fair Tax is the name pro­po­nents have ap­plied to the pro­posal to re­place Illi­nois’ fla­trate in­come tax with grad­u­ated rates that in­crease for those who earn more money. The pro­posal is on the bal­lot as a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment in the Nov. 3 elec­tion.

Vot­ers will see mes­sages for and against the pro­posal dom­i­nat­ing the air­waves and mail­boxes soon. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has poured $56.5 mil­lion from his fam­ily for­tune into the Vote Yes for Fair­ness PAC sup­port­ing the grad­u­ated tax, while busi­ness groups are rais­ing money to fight it.

Some 125 unions rep­re­sent­ing 1 mil­lion mem­bers in Illi­nois will be con­tacted and urged to sup­port the amend­ment, the union lead­ers said at a vir­tual news con­fer­ence. The pro­posal “would give work­ers re­lief at a time of ex­treme hard­ship,” said Robert Reiter Jr., pres­i­dent of the Chicago Fed­er­a­tion of La­bor.

The CFL and SEIU Health­care are among the la­bor-af­fil­i­ated groups that have an own­er­ship stake in Sun-Times Me­dia.

Op­po­nents, who have branded the plan the Blank Check Amend­ment, have framed the de­bate as in­volv­ing trust in govern­ment, ar­gu­ing the Illi­nois Leg­is­la­ture ul­ti­mately could raise taxes on the mid­dle class. They have used the ComEd cor­rup­tion scan­dal tar­get­ing Illi­nois House Speaker Michael Madi­gan to make their case.

Reiter said those mak­ing Madi­gan the is­sue are hid­ing their true mo­tives. “It’s re­ally just a way to pro­tect rich guys on the right,” Reiter said.

The Illi­nois flat tax on in­come is 4.95%.

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