ILLINOIS — Some Illinois Democrats said Thursday they are fighting to end corporate tax loopholes instead of moving forward with budget cuts.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced $711 million in cuts this week, noting the state’s budget, the largest spending plan in state history, is more than $3.9 billion out of balance.
The Democrats, led by state Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, said they want to close what they called corporate giveaways and tax loopholes instead.
“We will fight to make sure that those immensely wealthy and profitable corporations pay their fair share to our state before we go after services that people need,” Guzzardi said.
Americans for Prosperity Illinois Director Andrew Nelms said ending loopholes is good if the eye is on making the tax code simpler, fairer and more competitive with other states.
“But if anyone is looking to eliminate carve-outs and loopholes and exemptions merely as a tool to increase government revenue, then I believe that approach is wrongheaded,” Nelms said.
Guzzardi didn’t detail which “loopholes” or “giveaways” he said could mean billions of dollars.
The lack of detail caught the attention of Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Maisch.
“They need to have courage in their convictions and tell us what businesses they want to tax,” Maisch said. “For example, do they want to get rid of the research and development tax credits that help support life-saving medicines and vaccines? Or, will they eliminate many of the agriculture credits that help keep family farms afloat? Are they targeting incentives that help Illinois compete for good-paying manufacturing jobs?”
Maisch said during an economic crisis, state government should be looking at how to help job creators, not punish them with higher taxes.
Guzzardi said they aren’t looking at tax increases. They’re looking at ending loopholes for big corporations instead of budget cuts.
“We want to start by asking them to pay their fair share to close the loopholes that have enabled them to take advantage of our tax code, and to capture the billions of dollars our state needs to fund those essential services,” Guzzardi said.
Nelms was happy to hear they’re not focused on tax increases, but said taxpayers must remain vigilant.
“The fear is at some point it will become part of the conversations,” Nelms said. “General things like this happen quickly in Springfield and whenever things happen quickly or quietly in Springfield, taxpayers generally lose.”
Americans for Prosperity is running advertisements in Illinois opposing what the group said was some politicians pushing for a 20 percent increase in the income tax, following voters rejecting the progressive income tax constitutional amendment last month. Nelms noted that Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, before the November election, warned if the progressive tax failed, they’d have to increase the flat income tax rate by 20 percent.
The Center Square – Greg Bishop