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Illinois Graduated Income Tax Passes Senate, Moves On To House

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois is one step closer to a graduated income tax. The state senate voted Wednesday to approve placing the change before voters and approved rates that dramatically boost taxes on the wealthy.

All of this comes despite strong objections from Republicans and business groups.

Senate President John Cullerton introduced the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, along with Ozzie Guillen and Horace Grant, on the senate floor by saying, "I'd like to welcome them to Springfield, and I think we just raised your income taxes."

More than anything said, Cullerton's remark reveals Gov. JB Pritzker's fair tax plan as one that unquestionably soaks the rich, like billionaire Pritzker.

"I believe it's wrong that I would pay the same tax rate as someone making $100,000 or someone earning $30,000," Pritzker said.

The current flat tax stands at 4.95% for everyone. Under the so-called fair tax plan, taxes would only go up for those making more than $250,000.

Their rate would be 7.75%.

And for those making more than $1 million a year, the rate would be 7.99% for joint filers.

Republicans balked at the measure loudly.

"To solve our problems we don't need to raise tax rates," said Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady. "What we need to do is create jobs."

But with Illinois facing a $3.2 billion deficit democrats claimed there was no alternative.

"A graduated income tax that allows 97% of people in this state to pay the same or less," said Sen Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields. "I find it absolutely amazing that you would argue against that."

It passed with the required three-fifths vote, 40-19, and now the fight moves to the house, where the battle lines will be the same.

"If anybody thinks raising income taxes is a way to grow population in this state, they're smoking some of the soon-to-be-legalized marijuana," said Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield.

The graduated income tax could have a tougher time in the Illinois House where some downstate Democrats are said to be wavering. Democrats have 74 votes there. They'll need 71 votes to approve it. But even if it gets the green light in the house it's voters who will have the final say in a referendum.

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