Barickman, Jakobsson may debate progressive income tax
SPRINGFIELD — Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, says he'd like to debate state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, on whether Illinois should have a progressive rather than the current flat income tax.
And Jakobsson said she's interested in the idea.
The two lawmakers have come down on opposite sides of the issue, including writing guest commentaries in recent News-Gazette Commentary sections. Barickman opposes the idea; Jakobsson is sponsoring a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Illinois citizens to vote on the idea in November 2014.
Barickman, a freshman senator who lives in Bloomington but who once was head of the Champaign County Republican Party, suggested a series of debates in a letter to Jakobsson last week. She earlier had said she's be willing to debate representatives of the Illinois Policy Institute, outspoken opponents of her graduated income tax idea.
"In the spirit of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, I would welcome the opportunity to join you in discussing this monumental issue," Barickman wrote to Jaokobsson. "We can lay out our proposals and share our visions for state government.
"We could start here in central Illinois — with a public forum in our hometowns of Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington-Normal. I'm certainly willing to branch out to Chicago, Peoria, Springfield, Carbondale and the Quad Cities as your schedule permits."
Barickman said Wednesday that he would hope to have two debates this year and as many as possible before the Legislature takes up the issue next spring.
"I think we ought to do it before the Legislature considers her legislation, which is the question to be put on the ballot," he said. "We've got several months to have a series of debates.
"I think the public recognizes that this is an issue that might be coming up and it appears that we have two willing participants on each side of the issue. So I hope she takes me up on my request," Barickman said.
Although she hadn't responded to Barickman yet, Jakobsson told The News-Gazette on Wednesday that she's already contacted the League of Women Voters of Champaign County to see if it is interested in sponsoring a debate.
"I probably will, but I put in a call to the League to see if they'd like to sponsor it. That's the way we do things in Champaign County, usually, whenever it comes to this type of an issue," Jakobsson said.
"I'm not sure when it will happen," she said. "I've got meetings out of state, and between all of our hearings and sessions here (in Springfield) I don't know. But I do want to see if the League is interested in sponsoring a debate because I do know it's something they're interested in."
Neither Jakobsson nor Barickman is running for re-election next year. Jakobsson has announced that she will retire after current term, and Barickman is in the middle of a four-year term.