Greising: If Gov. Pritzker Wants His ‘Fair Tax,’ It’ll Take More Than an Ad Blast

Yet, while it may seem odd to use the case of a governor who lost his job as an example, there are lessons to take from the Ogilvie experience.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker (Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

BGA President David Greising writes every other week for the Chicago Tribune Opinion section.

With the news that Gov. J.B. Pritzker spent $51.5 million to back an advertising campaign for his graduated-rate tax proposal, the contest to win the Nov. 3 vote on a state constitutional amendment jumped into a new gear.

It’s a vital issue for the state. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax has the potential to be the biggest change to the state’s tax structure since the income tax first was introduced by Gov. Richard B. Ogilvie in 1969.

For his efforts, Ogilvie was denied reelection. Voters felt betrayed by a governor who introduced the income tax in his first budget address — on April Fools’ Day, no less — after making no mention of it during the campaign or his first months in office.

Pritzker has been upfront about what he calls a “fair tax.” He campaigned on the idea of raising taxes for the top 3% of the state’s taxpayers and holding steady for everyone else. The $51.5 million he just spent — nearly a third as much as he spent to get elected — shows his commitment to the plan.

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