PEORIA — Area Republican legislators gathered Wednesday to demand Democratic governor candidate JB Pritzker more clearly detail his tax proposals.
Flanking Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti at Peoria County GOP headquarters, each asserted that voters deserve to know the details of Pritzker's graduated income tax proposal — a topic on which he has avoided releasing any specifics.
"We think that Mr. Pritzker needs to come clean with the public about the specifics of his plan before they cast a vote in November or in early voting," state Sen. Jason Barickman of Bloomington said of the concept that would impose different tax rates on different levels of income rather than Illinois' current system in which everyone pays the same rate.
Lack of information on such a major policy proposal is "intellectually dishonest," state Rep. Ryan Spain of Peoria said. He called on Pritzker to "have the guts to tell you what that looks like."
The lawmakers and Sanguinetti all engaged in speculation about the impact of Pritzker's proposal, relying instead on the only graduated income tax proposal to be introduced in the Legislature in the last year.
That plan, by Chicago Democratic Rep. Robert Martwick, didn't receive a vote, but the group said absent any information from Pritzker it was the only thing they could examine, noting that the Democratic standard-bearer has said if he's elected he will work with the Legislature on determining rates.
The Legislature would have to approve any changes, as would voters in order to adjust an Illinois Constitution that mandates a flat tax.
The Democratic candidate has evaded a number of questions asked by Journal Star reporters about rate structures in a graduated income tax in recent months, most recently demurring on Aug. 13 during a visit to East Peoria.
At the time, Pritzker said voters should review the many proposals that have been bandied about, including one from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, one proposed two years ago by Democratic state Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie, and those in states neighboring Illinois.
"I think it's worth looking at all those systems and then when we got to negotiate that here in the state, people can understand what the choices are going to be," he said.
Though he's provided no details, Pritzker maintained he'd been clear on the principles behind his proposal.
"We want to lower taxes on the vast majority of people in Illinois — not only their income taxes, but we want to lower property taxes," he said.
"I think the people like (Republican Gov.) Bruce Rauner and me and those who are wealthy in the state ought to pay a higher rate and people in the middle class and those striving to get there ought to pay a lower rate than they're paying today."
Still, Republicans said it's crucial to know what it will mean for individual voters.
"If he's going to talk about having that tax, he has to come forward and tell us what that tax is going to be," state Sen. Chuck Weaver of Peoria said.
Chris Kaergard covers politics and government. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard.