Uncle Sam already has decided that richer individuals should pay more taxes.
In New Jersey, which is facing an estimated $2.7 billion revenue gap, the idea of a millionaire's tax is being revived by Democratic lawmakers.
That possibility has gone beyond talk in Illinois. Prairie State legislators have decided to let voters decide. To a point.
Before adjourning its spring session last week, the Illinois General Assembly sent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn a $35.7 billion budget.
That financial plan doesn't include any new taxes, but some lawmakers are working on ways to change that.
Higher tax rates, still not enough money: In 2011, Illinois hiked its corporate and individual income tax rates to 7 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
The hope plan three years ago was that the added revenue would solve Illinois' fiscal problems. That didn't happen
The tax rates are scheduled to start phasing down next year, eventually returning to their 4.8 percent corporate and 3 percent individual rates.
The state's continuing financial shortfalls prompted Quinn to propose making the higher rates permanent. That didn't happen either.
But the General Assembly came up with another plan. Along with the budget, Illinois lawmakers sent the governor a tax-related ballot question.
Advice only from the voters: They want to ask the state's voters to decide in November whether Illinois millionaires should pay an additional 3 percent tax.
There's just one problem. Even if voters agree that incomes of more than $1 million should be subject to the surtax, the ballot question is purely advisory.
The millionaires' tax vote wouldn't change the law. That still would be left to lawmakers in Springfield.
That's right. Members of the Illinois Assembly want to hear what the electorate has to say. They just don't want to be bothered with doing whatever the electorate says.
Not so different from any other state, eh?
Still the question is enough to earn the 3 percent tax proposal this week's honor as the By the Numbers figure.
Republicans are incensed. They say the millionaires' tax ballot measure is a purely political gimmick.
Quinn is expected, however, to sign the proposal to put the tax question before the electorate.
So we'll see in November what Illinois voters think about taxing the wealthy ... and what the state's lawmakers will do with that advice.
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