Students React to the Failure of Illinois’ Tax Amendment

The people of Illinois voted ‘no’ on a proposed tax amendment in Illinois which would enact a new tax system focused on raising taxes of the rich on Nov. 3.

The amendment, heavily supported by some and frowned upon by others, was not put into place by a vote of 55% no and 45% yes. Many of AT’s students who were avid supporters of the amendment expressed their disappointment.

“I do believe that the tax amendment would have been beneficial to Illinois,” said senior Israar Ahmed. “The current flat tax is unfair because while the rate is the same throughout, the amount that a wealthy person pays compared to a person of low income in respect to their wealth is not.”

Junior Cami Whitaker agreed.

“The increased taxes on those making 400k or more a year could be reinvested for a better purpose. I think it could have had a positive impact on the community,” she said.

Despite the arguments in favor of the tax, many Illinois residents disagreed. Several people feared that the amendment would give the state more power to tax the people. Others, like senior Cristal Moreno Aguilar, feared that the taxes on businesses would cost jobs.

“I do not think this amendment would have been a positive addition to our state. Although I believe it had the right intentions, it aims to hurt businesses which will hurt people in the process,” she said. “We already have the Covid-19 situation at hand, so this could add to the economic struggle and further increase unemployment.”

The fear of unemployment created by the pandemonium of the Covid-19 pandemic may have been one of the main reasons that the tax was not passed. Distrust of governor JB Pritzker and the politicians in Springfield likely also prevented it. Although the governor could not have prevented these two things from playing roles in the amendment’s failure, he may have actually hurt the amendment’s chances of passing when putting millions of his own money towards advertisements promoting the “Fair Tax.”

“Our governor spent a significant amount of money on advertisements displaying the amendment as “The Fair Tax,” but on the ballot voters saw it as an amendment to the constitution and did not realize what it was stating. I worked as an Election Judge and the number one question I received was by voters asking where the “Fair Tax” was on the ballot, because they were massively unaware of its name,” said Ahmed.

Whether it was the confusion, Covid, or skepticism of Springfield that failed the amendment, students all agreed that the failure was significant. Under the tax amendment, the Illinois System would have been more progressive, which is a system that generally sees more support from liberals than conservatives. Illinois typically votes more liberal, which makes the amendment’s result even more notable.

“I think it shows the Illinois Government alot about what the people think,” said senior Anthony Perez.

Although the tight result of the close vote count determines a lot about Illinois and shows a lot about its people, perhaps the biggest takeaway for many was the importance of voting.

“The tight vote reiterates what many people have heard – every vote counts. It is so important to vote because what we decide will have an effect on everybody’s lives,” said Whitaker.

Moreno Aguilar prodded people to remember this message during future elections. She explained that despite the continued belief that one vote can not make a difference, it can.

“It only takes one vote to break a tie, but people tend to forget that,” she said. “You can show your gratitude for being able to make a change, even if it isn’t as big as you’d hoped, by voting. Other countries don’t have this luxury. We do.”

Although most AT students can not yet vote, it will be up to them to determine the results of the next election. It will be up to them to determine whether we change or stay the same. However, in order to make this a reality, they will have to take the initiative to vote. They certainly will.

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