Pritzker (copy)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Will Gov. J.B. Pritzker have to stop pushing for his graduated tax plan if the constitutional amendment makes it to the ballot?

Illinois state law bans the use of public funds to promote a ballot initiative, as well as a constitutionally-elected officer from “campaigning for any elective office or for or against any referendum question.”

The Daily Herald Editorial Board criticized Pritzker for traveling the state to promote what he calls a “fair tax” and for posting a calculator on Illinois’ public state website asking people to find out how their taxes would be different under his proposed rates should the income tax change the way he wants it to.

The Daily Herald Editorial Board endorsed Pritzker over Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018.

There are clear rules against politicking on the public dime, but Springfield-based attorney Don Craven said the governor still is an American citizen with First Amendment rights.

“It’s a prohibition on the use of public funds, not a prohibition on the use of his free speech rights to advocate for those things he believes in,” he said.

The law also allows for public resources to be used in the dissemination of factual information regarding a ballot measure.

Think Big Illinois, a nonprofit run by Pritzker’s former campaign manager, has released a number of radio, TV, and online ads pushing for a progressive income tax. Another nonprofit group has launched ads opposing the progressive tax plan.

Pritzker didn’t respond to requests for comment on the issue.

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