TMA VP Dennis LaComb: ‘Progressive’ tax will ultimately affect everyone

By Dennis LaComb – 

As an association that represents small and mid-size manufacturers employing close to 33,000 individuals, the Technology and Manufacturing Association is deeply concerned about the dangerous progressive tax amendment Springfield politicians have placed on our ballots in November.

This massive tax hike amendment ultimately will raise tax rates on everyone in Illinois. The middle class, the working poor, and the backbone of our economy, small business owners. No one will be spared from this devastating proposal, and it will solve none of the state’s fiscal problems.

Illinoisans already face the highest overall tax burden in the nation. We have the 2nd highest property taxes in the country, the highest gas taxes in the Midwest, the highest sales tax rate in America, and now politicians are even threatening a tax on retirement.

All these taxes have real-life consequences, especially as we struggle economically during this COVID-19 government-mandated economic shutdown. Families are unable to afford child care or their children’s education. Seniors on fixed incomes are losing the homes where they raised their children and grandchildren. Small manufacturers are concerned about keeping their plants open and preventing their employees from falling into the broken, frustrating, and failed state unemployment system.

We certainly cannot afford another tax hike. While Springfield politicians claim this tax would only raise taxes on “the rich,” privately they admit they will have no choice but to adjust the tax brackets and raise taxes on the middle class and even the working poor to fill our state’s massive budget hole and cover all their new proposed spending. This is exactly what has happened in other states that approved a progressive tax, with higher rates starting at incomes as low as $25,000 per year.

Here at the Technology and Manufacturing Association, we fear that the results of this tax will mirror what we have seen in other states. To absorb the higher taxes, small business owners would have to fire workers, freeze salaries, cut hours and benefits, and increase the cost of goods and services for consumers when regular Illinoisans are already struggling to survive.

The progressive tax will cost jobs, slow wage growth, and hurt Illinois workers when we are already facing the highest unemployment since the Great Depression due to coronavirus public policy. Our Illinois economy continues to lag behind the rest of the country because of high taxes. The progressive tax will further hurt our economy, costing Illinois up to 286,000 jobs and $43 billion in economic activity. This means fewer jobs for Illinois workers, slower wage growth and higher costs for families, and less opportunity for our children.

This huge change in our tax law would not even address the biggest problem in Illinois: our sky-high property taxes. Illinoisans pay three to four times the property taxes homeowners in Indiana and Wisconsin pay for the same size house, and those taxes seem to go up every year even as our home values are stagnant. The progressive tax simply piles additional taxes onto already overburdened Illinois taxpayers without a solution to the property tax problem that wreaks havoc on Illinois property owners and, yes, even those who rent.

Simply stated, Illinoisans are already the highest taxed citizens in this country, and we cannot afford another tax hike. If Springfield politicians cared for the future of Illinois, they would get our spending under control and cut taxes to encourage economic growth and attract new employers to Illinois. Sadly, this is not the mindset of the majority in Springfield as they continue to tax and spend with reckless abandon, no matter the irreparable harm it causes workers, families, and small businesses.

We must stop this dangerous progressive tax in November. The Technology and Manufacturing Association along with dozens of organizations throughout the state have come out in support of working people and their employers to fight this tax. We encourage you to vote no on the progressive tax in November. We cannot afford another tax increase.

• Dennis LaComb is vice president of the Technology & Manufacturing Association, based in Schaumburg.

First published in the Daily Herald.