Democrats up and down the ballot stump for the ‘Fair Tax’

Democrats up and down the ballot stump for the ‘Fair Tax’

Gov. J.B. Pritzker urges people to vote for a major piece of his 2018 campaign platform — a move to a graduated income tax. | Screenshot

The Zoom “rally” featured a who’s-who of Illinois politics, including Pritzker, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx.

High-ranking Illinois Democrats rallied Friday night in a last-ditch effort to convince residents to vote for the proposed move to a graduated income tax, a flagship campaign item for Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The Zoom “rally” featured a who’s-who of state politics, including Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

The rally, also streamed on Facebook Live, was just four days before the officials — and the public — could know whether the measure is approved.

It’s been a long battle, pitting the billionaire governor against a relative and one of the state’s richest men.

Those who spoke during the virtual rally took digs at the billionaires they say are avoiding paying “their fair share.”

“We need to let everyone know how the Fair Tax will help them — their communities and their state — and to push back on the false narratives out there, from those who are only out to protect their own bottom line,” Pritzker said. “… Today I’m asking you to help win the fight for working families with a victory for the Fair Tax. It’s been a marathon…”

Passing what he and supporters call the “Fair Tax” amendment has been one of Pritzker’s top priorities — and at the top of the ballot.

Officials on the call also took the virtual rally as a chance to stump for those on the call, including Foxx and Marie Newman, the Democratic nominee in the state’s 3rd Congressional District.

“Kim is in a tough race, and really needs our support,” Preckwinkle said. “Those who aren’t happy with the criminal justice reforms that we’ve been working on for the past decade have focused on her and on this race. … I think the nature of the campaign that’s been waged against her is really a campaign against all the criminal justice reforms that we’ve been struggling so hard to enact.”

Preckwinkle also urged people to vote “No” on Cook County Judge Michael Toomin, who appointed a special prosecutor to reopen the case of former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett after Foxx’s office dropped charges against him. The county’s Democratic Party voted not to endorse Toomin for re-election, spurring allegations of retaliation.

“I’m very grateful that the party has taken the difficult stance of saying not every judge deserves retention — and some people, frankly, do not operate in the interest of all of our of our residents and our citizens and particularly our Black and Brown community,” Preckwinkle said.

Pritzker also urged people to vote in races up and down the ballot — to which Durbin replied “go call cousin Pookie.”

The underlying message was supporting the amendment that could change the state’s tax system to a graduated-rate system.

Opponents argue the proposal opens the door for further tax hikes down the road to pay off the state’s massive debts, but the governor and supporters say it’s a way to get the rich — including himself — to pay their fair share while also “generating billions of dollars in revenue to put our state on firm fiscal footing,” Pritzker said Friday.

In a statement Friday, two small business owners urged people to vote against the amendment.

“This year has been more than we could’ve ever imagined, and now is absolutely not the time to trust Springfield politicians with more of our money and an increased tax burden for small business,” said Stephanie Endsley, a member of the coalition to stop the amendment. “There have been two major tax hikes in the past ten years. Springfield politicians have us in a situation where we are 8 billion dollars in debt. Those same politicians are asking us to sign a blank check for their use. This is not the time for a tax hike.”

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