Colorado vote sends warning
Beware of the siren song of raising taxes only on the highest income earners.
Proponents of a constitutional amendment allowing a progressive state income tax in Illinois claim — with great sincerity and fervor — that higher tax rates would only be levied on the rich.
Skeptics dispute that claim by pointing to the many states where progressive income taxes already are in place and high rates are imposed on middle-income working families. Don't trust the politicians who want to raise taxes, they argue, look what they have done and want to do in other states.
Those who oppose a progressive income tax got more ammunition for that argument from the recent highly touted tax referendum in Colorado.
Voters there overwhelmingly defeated a bold education plan aimed at raising vast new sums of money for education. Part of the plan was to raise income tax revenues with a progressive tax plan, one that targeted upper-income earners. You know, those rapacious millionaires who aren't paying their fair share.
Colorado's Amendment 66 called for increasing income taxes from 4.63 percent to 5 percent on lower-income families. It also would have established a higher progressive rate of 5.9 percent for the millionaires whose incomes are over $75,000.
It's not that those in search of higher revenue wouldn't really like to make the wealthy pay for costly new social welfare and education programs. It's just that there are not enough rich people to generate the necessary tax revenues. So they go after the middle class because that's where the money is.
It's that way in Colorado and many other states, including Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin. It will be that way if proponents of a progressive income tax get their way in Illinois.
Voters should support a progressive income tax if they think it's good policy; but no one should be so foolish as to think that higher taxes will be levied only on the rich.