Dan McCaleb | A moment of clarity amid all the tax-hike chatter

Dan McCaleb | A moment of clarity amid all the tax-hike chatter

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly are so hellbent on taking more of Illinoisans' hard-earned money, it is refreshing when someone pauses and offers a moment of clarity.

"The taxpayers deserve a seat at the table when it comes to negotiating tax increases," state Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, said Tuesday at the state capitol.

It was a simple statement, and the message itself seems obvious, but it needed to be said. Because no one is talking about taxpayers even as lawmakers propose reaching further into their wallets in a number of ways to help fund their bloated spending plans.

McConchie's comment came during a news conference announcing a proposed constitutional amendment he filed that would require a two-thirds supermajority vote in both the state Senate and House to raise any taxes or fees on Illinoisans. Currently, only a simple majority — 50 percent plus one — is needed to raise taxes.

Before I go any further, let's get the obvious out of the way first: This proposed constitutional amendment isn't going anywhere. It was dead before McConchie even filed the paperwork.

Democrats who control both chambers won't support it. McConchie knows that, even if he didn't say so at the news conference.

But given what's been going on in Springfield this session, the amendment's filing and the news conference was necessary, if only to give lawmakers and taxpayers a chance to catch their collective breath.

"So far, we've had about $4.5 billion in new taxes that have been put forward, including income tax, bag tax, gas tax, marijuana tax, a vaping tax, expand [the] sales tax to include services, sports betting, and I think I'm probably missing one or two," McConchie said at the news conference surrounded by other Republican state senators.

For the record, McConchie did miss a few. Lawmakers have also proposed tax increases on tobacco products, financial transactions and more.

There are so many tax hike proposals in Springfield, in fact, it's hard to keep up.

Unfortunately, for far too many of those paying attention, all the tax hike talk must seem only natural.

The first question McConchie was asked by a reporter covering his news conference was why he didn't propose a two-thirds majority vote for any tax decrease.

As if decreasing Illinoisans' taxes is even part of the conversation in Springfield.

Another reporter referred to McConchie's proposal as the "tyranny of the minority."

As if watching out for taxpayers — or giving them a seat at the table — is "tyranny."

For those so dismissive of his idea, McConchie pointed out that 15 U.S. states already require a supermajority vote to raise taxes. All of them are in better fiscal shape than Illinois.

No, McConchie's amendment isn't going anywhere. But for a moment at least, taxpayers were part of the conversation. We all need more moments like that.

Dan McCaleb is editor of Illinois News Network and the digital hub ILNews.org. Contact him at dmccaleb@ilnews.org.

Sections (2):Columns, Opinion
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