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Group makes push for progressive income tax

Published: Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 9:20 a.m. CDT

DECATUR (MCT) — For those like the Rev. Michael Hoy, a progressive income tax is a matter of morality and justice.

Hoy, pastor at the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Decatur, was among those at the Madden Auditorium in the Decatur Public Library Thursday morning to push state lawmakers to consider a progressive tax policy when they return to Springfield next week for the fall veto session.

"This is a campaign for people to become more morally conscious of the needs of the state, and particular the many services of this state, to provide for all residents of Illinois, especially our poor," Hoy said.

Thursday's event was organized by the lobbyist group, A Better Illinois. The group showcased its 125,000 petition signatures at the event and plans to bring those to Springfield next week to convince lawmakers of the public support for the plan.

The system, if implemented, would apply higher rates to larger incomes and lower rates to smaller incomes. The current system is a flat income tax, where citizens of any income pay the same percentage.

Implementing the plan could equal a tax break to many middle-class citizens, said Kristen Crowell, campaign director of A Better Illinois. The progressive tax, according to the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, could lower the marginal tax rate of 94 percent of the state's taxpayers.

Along with Hoy and Crowell, Decatur school board member Fred Spannaus told the crowd Thursday how the policy would free up additional money, which could be put back into schools.

Whether the General Assembly takes up the issue in the near future remains to be seen, as lawmakers suggest the focus will be on finding a pension solution. Additionally, some opponents are wary of increasing any sort of taxes; especially with the 2011 income tax increase set to expire at the end of next year, setting the income tax back to 3.75 percent.

Thirty-four other states have a progressive tax in-place, including Illinois neighbors Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and Kentucky.

Kelly Steele, a member of A Better Illinois, said there are two proposals in Springfield which would, if approved, allow the progressive tax issue to be voted on by Illinois residents by the fall 2014 ballot.

"With this amount of support, I think it's reasonable to ask lawmakers to let the public vote," Steele said.

(c)2013 the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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