Illinoisans are beginning to see advertisements on TV touting that rich people should pay their fair share of taxes. The front man for this effort is Gov. Pritzker, who reportedly is funding this campaign with millions of his personal fortune.

Illinois legislators want you to believe that rich people are not paying their fair share. This commercial is playing to your emotions. So much so that the actual name of the referendum is Graduated Income Tax. But, because the governor wants to distract you, he is calling it the Fair Tax referendum. Let’s look at this issue a little closer.

First, the fact. The Illinois income tax rate is embedded into the Illinois state Constitution. Therefore, neither the governor, nor the state legislators, can change the tax rate. The authors of the state income tax were wise enough to understand that if the governor or the state legislators decided they want more money, they could not arbitrarily change the income tax rate. The rate was put into the constitution because it would require you to agree to change it via a constitutional amendment.

What is this referendum really about? What the referendum for the graduated income tax is about is not increasing taxes on the vast majority of Illinoisans today, but some day in the future. By making it sound like the rich are not paying their fair share, trying to appeal to your emotions, the governor is simply running a shell game con on all of us. You’ve seen the shell game con before. It looks simple enough. Just find which shell has the pea under it. You can never win at the shell game. You are looking where they want you to look and not seeing what is really happening elsewhere. It is a simple principle of magicians. Misdirection. The magician holds his hand in the air while looking at it, and the entire audience will look at the hand that is in the air. All the while the other hand is extracting a hidden item from under his coat.

The state legislators have even done a shell game on you once before. When they wanted you to vote to institute the Illinois lottery, they claimed the money would fund education in the early ’70s. They wanted you to look at the magician holding his hand in the air, claiming the money would go for education. Of course, we all thought that meant education would get their current funding level plus the lottery money. Well, the magician pulled something from under his coat and guess what, the lottery money replaced the current funding level. So, in effect, virtually no change occurred to the funding of education.

It was just a shell game, and we thought it was a no brainer for education to win if we agreed to vote for it. Well, the pea should have been under the shell we pointed to, but guess what, you cannot win at the shell game.

Misdirection, that’s what the Fair Tax is about. That’s why they even renamed it (Don’t look here, look where I want you to look). Making statements such as 97 percent of Illinoisans will not pay more taxes if they vote for this referendum gets people excited that they can get rich people to pay more, that is, their fair share. They want to get Illinois voters to vote yes on the referendum to get those wealthy people. But just like the shell game, you can never win. Just like the magician looking at his raised hand, you don’t see what he is doing with his other hand.

The fact is, the only thing the governor and the legislators want is to get the income tax rate removed from the state constitution. If you vote to pass this referendum, that is what you will be doing. Once the income tax rate is removed from the constitution, look out. You have just given the governor and the legislators a blank check to raise the income tax rate anytime they wish. We all know that one of the main reason Illinois has a shortfall of revenue is because the legislators, current or past, have overspent with no regards for fiscal responsibility. Simply put, they are spending more money than is coming in. You have to manage your household budget, but they play by different rules. Their solution, just raise taxes and get more money, money out of your pocket. That is what this is about, get control of the income tax rate so they can change it, not today, next year, or the year after. They will wait just long enough so you don’t realize that you voted to remove the income tax rate from the constitution and give the governor and legislators free hand at changing the rate for all of us. You will have done it to yourself.

Yes, this is nothing but a shell game. They want to make you think the pea is under one specific shell, only to have it somewhere else. Or to say it another way, make you think you are voting for rich people to pay more on their income tax, only to find out that in a few years, we will all be paying more as they raise the income tax rate whenever they wish, again, and again, and again. At which time there will be nothing you can do about it. Please vote no on the graduated income tax referendum. Darn, I was sure the pea was under that shell! Got me again!

John Skoryi


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