Bambenek, Frerichs spar over income tax

Bambenek, Frerichs spar over income tax

CHAMPAIGN — A progressive income tax in Illinois would have "dire economic consequences" for the state, said John Bambenek, the Republican candidate for the 52nd Illinois Senate District.

Bambenek is challenging state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, who has endorsed a move away from Illinois' 42-year-old flat rate income tax.

"There are always unintended consequences with this," Bambenek said Wednesday at a news conference at the Champaign Public Library with John Tillman, founder of the conservative Illinois Opportunity Project. "We're going to see more businesses leave. If you're the eighth highest-taxed state in the union and you decide to have even higher taxes, more businesses are going to look elsewhere. Less economic activity means less revenue into the state and less revenue to the state means less spending on universities and social service programs and Medicaid and pensions and on and on."

Tillman claimed the move to a progressive tax would mean an income tax increase for about 85 percent of Illinoisans.

Although no formal progressive income tax constitutional amendment has been proposed, the one getting the most discussion — including at a press conference attended by Frerichs last February — is one by Ralph Martire and the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

But Frerichs said Wednesday that he isn't backing Martire's proposal.

"While I support a constitutional amendment calling for a move to a progressive income tax, I did not endorse any specific rates or any specific proposal," Frerichs said. "I never stood next to Ralph Martire and said, 'I endorse this plan.'"

Martire's proposal not only calls for a progressive income tax but for a continuation of the 67 percent income tax passed in January 2011 with Frerichs' support.

"If the proposal that is on the table now is passed, if you make the tax hike permanent, that's a $6.4 billion tax increase on the people of Illinois," Tillman said. "Anybody making $5,000 or more would be subject to that. In other words, 85 percent of Illinois tax filers would be paying higher rates with the progressive tax that has been proposed."

Bambenek said the entire income tax increase should be repealed and that the progressive tax should be defeated.

The issue and others could come up again Thursday night when Frerichs and Bambenek meet at a candidate forum at the Village Mall in Danville.

"I wonder if John Bambenek also endorses John Tillman's plan to pass on the $7 billion cost of pensions to local governments," Frerichs said. "I wonder if him standing next to John Tillman today means he would vote for that $7 billion property tax shift onto local school districts."

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pattsi wrote on October 25, 2012 at 9:10 am

Maybe more facts and figures were shared than reported in this article. That said, I do not follow the logic of arguing against a progressive income tax directly related to losing more jobs/industry/businesses. There are many states with progressive income tax and no losing businesses/jobs as Illinois. And one infamous state, Texas, with no state income tax, increasing number of businesses/job, yet, the population pays the anti through exorbinant property taxes. There is a need for more date, total bottomline cost to a citizen for all of the taxes paid before one can make an argument whether progressive taxes cause businesses/jobs to vanish.

EL YATIRI wrote on October 27, 2012 at 1:10 am
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Facts, figures and truth from politicians and the news gazoo?  Don't hold your breath Pattsi.

jdmac44 wrote on October 25, 2012 at 9:10 am

The state must prove that they can spend the money they have wisely before they can even ask for another dime from tax payers.  What benefit have we seen from the 67% increase?

bambenek wrote on October 25, 2012 at 9:10 am

Here is the video of the press conference where Frerichs, with lobbyist Ralph Martire and other senators unveil a report calling for a progressive tax:

The report, available here:      HERE

Table 7 of the report is the proposal of new tax rates and you will notice that the base rate is 5%, thus proposing to make the temporary tax hike permanent.  He was at the press conference and the topic was this report.


cretis16 wrote on October 25, 2012 at 10:10 am

Thanks Mike, that 67% tax hike you put on us is already being wasted by Springfield. You first move on re-election is for Mike Madigan again....

ericbussell wrote on October 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Watching Frerichs avoid tough conversations has become quite entertaining.  In the YouTube video, Frerichs mentions how misinformation and myths helped defeat a previous effort to introduce a graduated income tax.  When the folks from the Illinois Policy Institute point out concerns with a popular (but not formal) proposal, Frerich's only contribution to the conversation is to say he doesn't officially endorse the plan and to change the conversation.  

When the N-G reported that Frerich's cousin moved his trucking business because of the excessive cost of doing in this state, primarily due to workers comp premiums, what do you think Frerichs did?   Instead to talking about the challenges that caused his cousin to move, he avoids the conversation and points out that he and his cousin are not that close.  Are you kidding me?

These politicians are very skilled at keeping things intentionally vague so the details will not emerge until something is voted in at a surprise lame duck session.  Why not have a conversation about a popular proposal that is tied to your effort to introduce a "more modernized" tax structure.  If Frerichs is not willing to engage in constructive conversation about the important topics in any detail, how can he whine about misinformation and myths?  

I guess we'll just have to wait for his next motivational speech about how a rising tide raises only republican yachts...or whatever.

Mark Taylor wrote on October 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm

That's right, Eric. Call him out for his cousin's actions. Don't listen to anyone telling you to "stay classy" or that it seems a bit desperate or weird to attack him for the beliefs and actions of a relative -- make him explain every action of every relative and his neighbors and co-workers too!!!1!

Why, I've got a cousin who's a dang liberal and I know I'm forever having to justify his beliefs and actions to any random stranger on a local newspaper blog.

Don't let up on the MOST important issue in this race!!1!

ericbussell wrote on October 25, 2012 at 10:10 pm

For starters, Frerichs isn't involved in a "race" and will win easily.   This is not some campaign game.  The unemployment rate in our state 8.8%, a full percentage point higher than the national average and 1.5% higher than the average of our surrounding neighbors.  The number of unemployed Illinoisans currently looking for work is more than 582,000. If Illinois' unemployment rate were only equal to the national average, this number would drop 12 percent and nearly 70,000 additional Illinoisans would have jobs.  And if Illinois could bring its unemployment rate down to the average of its neighbors, more than 100,000 additional Illinoisans would have jobs. That would reduce the number of unemployed in Illinois by 17.5 percent.  This does not even factor in the opportunity cost of the out-migration problem.  Illinois residents are fleeing the state. When people leave, they take their purchasing power, entrepreneurial activity and taxable income with them.  For more than 15 years, residents have left Illinois at a rate of one person every 10 minutes.  It is an extremely disadvantageous budget killer that severely limits tax revenues. 

If Frerichs thinks that the course to fixing our state is to modernize our tax code with a progressive tax, let's have the conversation.  Instead, he hides from any detailed discussion and tries to change the subject.  If he can't engage on his own ideas in any detail, that is just sad.  I guess we can't have serious conversations about our challenges until after the "race" is over.  Unfortunately, there will always be another election just around the corner.  At some point we'll have to address our challenges and I'm not sure that's possible when our elected officials are too afraid to discuss their own ideas in any detail. 

Frerichs' immediate reaction always seems to be to discredit those who are raising concerns.  Mark, you falsely suggest that I want Frerichs to explain the actions of his cousin and you do a fine job of reminding everyone that I'm just an inconsequential newspaper blogger.   I guess my concerns aren't valid, but how can we ignore the unfortunate economic reality in our state?  I would like Frerichs to explain what he and his colleagues are doing to make it less appealing to move jobs and seek jobs out of state.  If a progressive tax system is the answer, can't we at least have a real conversation?  


Mark Taylor wrote on October 26, 2012 at 9:10 am

Yes, and, as we all know, substantive discussions of issues begin by using the actions of someone's relative to discredit their position.

ericbussell wrote on October 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Frerichs took a position?

Mark Taylor wrote on October 26, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Excellent job of neglecting to again own up to the fact that you chose to -- maturely and seriously, of course -- bring up his cousin's actions in order to attack him.

It's okay; no one's really surprised. Just leave off the high horse maybe?

ericbussell wrote on October 26, 2012 at 11:10 pm

I am absolutely critical of Frerich's response the N-G's reporting of his cousin moving his business to Indiana.  Are we only going to talk about me and my dicussion style from this point forward?  Heck, even I'm getting bored. 

Mark Taylor wrote on October 27, 2012 at 9:10 am

Yep -- it really is all about you, Eric. Just fascinated with your discussion style because it's so dang fascinatingly fascinating. In and of itself.

You should be proud of attacking him for his cousin's actions.

Own it, brother. It's who you are.

Champaign Jack wrote on October 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm

I've watched the video Mr. Bambenek is referencing and not once does Senator Frerichs endorse the plan that Mr. Bambenek is claiming he did.  All that Senator Frerichs says is that he thinks there should be a larger conversation about the possibility of moving to a progressive income tax.  I would hardly call that an endorsement.  Also, the claim that Senator Frerichs is in favor of extending the income tax increase is completely false.  The senator has said countless times that he is in favor of letting the income tax increase expire as it's scheduled to.  Not to mention, I don't know how Mr. Bambenek can say he's in favor of lowering taxes when he supports cutting $1.3 billion in state funding to our municipalities.  A move that's sure to result in skyrocketing property taxes.  Things just aren't adding up here.  Seems to me that Mr. Bambenek is taking the same approach with Senator Frerichs that he did with Alan Nudo during their primary.  This sort of playing fast and loose with the facts and saying whatever he has to to bloody up his opponent certainly isn't what I'm looking for in a state senator.

ericbussell wrote on October 25, 2012 at 11:10 pm

I've also watched the video earlier and I don't believe Frerichs makes any specific reference to the plan at all.  Believe me, if Frerichs was willing to discuss possible solututions in any sort of detail, I would remember the milestone.

We're just getting into word games and intentionally distracting attention from the root topic of a progressive income tax.  Did he technically endorse it?  Is Bamenek technically claiming that he did?  Does anyone actually give a ****?

Even though Frerichs was one of three senators who stood next to Ralph Martire from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability as he unveiled his plan, he doesn't officially endorse that particular plan at that time.  Fair enough.  What about the plan does he like and what about the plan doesn't he like?  What type of progressive tax plan does he envision if he is successfully able to change the constitution?  Has he considered the potential adverse affects on economic development that a progressive tax plan might have? 

Instead we get a childish and defensive reaction.