Fight Over Progressive Income Tax Starts in Illinois

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Even though the issue would be decided at the ballot in November of 2020, Illinoisans are already getting a glimpse of what’s in store in the fight to change the state’s income tax structure from a flat percentage to one that taxes higher earners more.

Two nonprofits have formed with the missions of fighting for and against changing Illinois’ constitution to allow a higher percentage of income to be taxed from higher-earning residents.

Ideas Illinois is an initiative of the Coalition for Jobs, Growth and Prosperity. That's a privately-funded nonprofit run by former Illinois Manufacturers Association President Greg Baise and businessman James Gidwitz, brother of President Donald Trump's former Illinois campaign finance head, Ron Gidwitz. In the past, the organization successfully fought back then Gov. Rod Blagojevich's push for a Gross Receipts Tax, the union-led "card check" campaign and Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle's tax on sugary drinks."

"We will focus on policies that will create jobs and grow our economy," it says. "It’s going to take hard work and straight talk but together we can put Illinois on the right track."

In the other corner is Think Big Illinois, a nonprofit partially funded by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and managed by members of his campaign staff. Think Big Illinois is advocating for a progressive tax.

Think Big Illinois has released an online ad criticizing Ideas Illinois, calling the group supporters of former Gov. Bruce Rauner. The ad says Illinois’ income tax is unfair and "disproportionately falls on the middle class."

Think Big also advocated for a statewide $15 an hour minimum wage.

Both Ideas Illinois and Think Big Illinois are nonprofits, thus not required to disclose the identities of donors.

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