Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) drew a large crowd on Wednesday, as close to 100 people came out for his spring open topics town hall meeting.
“We had a great turnout and the audience was really engaged,” said Wehrli. “I fielded questions on a variety of topics and I believe all who attended left with a better understanding of the challenges we face as a state, and how I am working locally to address issues important to the 41st District.”
After a short presentation by Wehrli, over an hour was spent on a question and answer session with attendees. Several constituents stayed after the event to have one-on-one conversations with their state representative.
Topics discussed included the May push to approve a budget for Fiscal Year 2020, the need for pension reform, legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, property tax issues and more. The meeting also included a lengthy discussion about Governor JB Pritzker’s desire to remove the flat income tax guarantee from the Illinois Constitution and replace it with a graduated tax structure that would hike taxes on Illinois families and businesses.
“I was pleased to see that many in the room recognized that the Pritzker plan is nothing more than a classic ‘bait and switch,’ which promises attractive rates to gain public support, but would provide no protections against future hikes on middle income earners,” said Wehrli. “I explained how the tax increases pushed through by Democrats in 2011 and 2017 did nothing to address the state’s financial crisis, but instead provided majority party lawmakers with justification to add more programs and new spending.”
Wehrli also explained to the group that in order for the graduated income tax question to come before voters, it must first be approved by a super-majority vote in the House and Senate. “I would expect the measure to reach that approval threshold in the Senate, but with only three Democrat votes to spare in the House, they may have more trouble getting the required support in our chamber,” added Wehrli. “There are 74 Democrats in the House and the measure needs 71 votes to pass. House Republicans are united in their opposition to the graduated tax, so they won’t get any votes from us.”
Wehrli continued, “The flat income tax guarantee is one of the last good things Illinois has going for it. Today, if lawmakers want to raise income tax rates, they must raise them on everyone. That gives us pause, because we know we would be causing a real hardship on some people. By removing that protection, lawmakers would be able to bring more and more people into higher tax brackets over time as they increase state spending. If this initiative makes it to the ballot, I hope Illinoisans think long and hard about whether they can trust legislators to set responsible rates and hold their spending to what is affordable through those rates.”
Lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday, April 30 for the final five weeks of the spring legislative session.