CHAMPAIGN — A move to a progressive income tax could pull Illinois out of its woeful financial condition, state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, said Thursday night.
Jakobsson made her remarks at a candidate forum with Republican challenger Rob Meister of Champaign at the Champaign City Building.
She said a move from a flat income tax, which Illinois has had for more than 40 years, "will not raise taxes for most people in Illinois."
But she admitted after the debate that the constitutional amendment that she has proposed would not set tax rates; that would be left to the Legislature.
Meister, a restaurant owner, said he would oppose the proposed amendment.
"I don't like the idea of doing it," he said. "I think it's going to scare a lot more people into leaving Illinois."
The candidates disagreed on a number of other issues as well, including a concealed-carry law in Illinois. Meister said he would support concealed-carry while Jakobsson would oppose it. Illinois is the only state without concealed-carry.
Jakobsson said that she polled her constituents 18 months ago and learned that 66 percent opposed the idea.
"It's not only the way I believe but the way my constituents believe," she said.
Asked about budget cuts, Meister said that Illinois has the second-highest paid officials in the United States "and we're not second highest in anything else."
"They don't need to be making this much," said Meister, who said he'd be willing to serve as a legislator "for a dollar." The base legislative salary is $67,836.
Jakobsson said she hopes "we don't need to make further cuts. We have cut and cut and cut."
Meister said lawmakers "should consider term limits for people," as a way of reducing the concentration of power in Springfield, while Jakobsson contended that the Legislature's committee system is sufficient.
"It's in the committees that decisions are made and bills are debated and discussed," she said. "We have a system that works."