Graduated income tax amendment most expensive ballot initiative in Illinois history

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Tuesday, November 3, 2020
Illinois graduated tax amendment battle most expensive ballot initiative in state history
With $110 million spent in total by both sides, the graduated income tax amendment is the most expensive ballot initiative in Illinois history.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With more than $100 million spent by both sides, the battle over the graduated income tax amendment has become the most expensive ballot initiative in Illinois history.

Around $110 million has been spent by both sides on the amendment.

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"This level of spending is unprecedented, and what's interesting is the two people duking it out have spent more than $50 million each," said David Greisng, president and CEO of the Better Government Association.

A billionaire governor versus the richest person in Illinois - Governor JB Pritzker and Ken Griffin - both have accounted for about 90% off the spending on the ballot question that affects all Illinois taxpayers.

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"This is no doubt a very important question for all of us who pay taxes, but really only a small number of voices are being heard when it comes to donations for and against that," said Isaac Wink of Reform for Illinois.

The money has gone towards ads, with Pritzker rebranding it the Fair Tax Amendment, and those against calling it the Tax Hike Amendment.

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"Is it fair that everyone pays the same rate, or do we trust politicians to be able to micromanage tax rates across the spectrum of income, and that is the fight right now," Greising said.

Right now, Illinois is one of only nine states where everyone pays the same tax rate regardless of income. If he wins, Governor Pritzker is proposing to raise taxes on top income earners from the current 4.95% flat to 7.75% and above.

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Polls show the ballot initiative is a toss-up.

If the graduated tax amendment fails, Pritzker can try again at a future election, but experts say he may get more support if next time he ties it to pension reform.