A Senate committee advanced three proposed amendments to the Illinois Constitution on April 19th. The proposed constitutional amendments must be considered by the Illinois Senate in the coming days if they are to advance through the General Assembly before a quickly approaching May approval deadline and appear on the November 8 ballot.
The constitutional amendments proposed include:
Graduated tax proposal (SJRCA 1): This proposal would allow the state to implement a tax where lower-income earners would pay a lower rate than the rate paid by individuals with a higher income.The constitutional amendment does not identify what the rates would actually be, which concerns many lawmakers.
Currently, Illinois has a “flat tax” on personal income tax, meaning that a single tax rate is applied to every individual taxpayer in the state, regardless of income. However, under the flat tax, the more people earn, the more they pay. Though the Illinois constitution currently requires the tax rate be the same for every individual taxpayer, it does allow the General Assembly to determine the rate.
Redistricting proposal (SJRCA 30): This measure would change the process by which state legislative districts and congressional legislative districts are drawn.However, the process for drawing district lines would still begin in the General Assembly, despite criticism that elected officials should not draw their own political boundaries.
Eliminate Lt. Gov position proposal (SJRCA 29): The constitutional amendment proposes elimination of the office of the Illinois lieutenant governor beginning with the 2019 gubernatorial term. Removal of the office would mean that if the governor becomes unable to serve due to death, conviction on impeachment, failure to qualify, resignation or disability, the attorney general would be first in the order of succession to fulfill the office of governor.
Concerns have be raised that the change could result in a situation where a vacancy in the office of governor would be filled by an attorney general of a different political party.
If a constitutional amendment is approved by a 3/5th majority in both chambers of the General Assembly, the proposal will be placed on the 2016 ballot during the November General Election. At that time Illinois voters will decide whether or not to add these provisions to the Illinois Constitution. Constitutional Amendments require either a three-fifths majority vote of those voting on the Constitutional Amendment or a majority of those voting in the election.
Though our state’s constitution provides a process by which constitutional amendments can be put to voters, it limits the number that can be considered during one election. No more than three articles of our state’s Constitution can be amended at one time.