Evanston aldermen split tonight when asked to endorse a resolution urging the legislature to keep the state income tax rate at 5 percent.
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said that if the tax is allowed to roll back to 3 percent — as lawmakers promised when they passed what they billed as a temporary increase — “the cuts that will have to come are going to fall heavily on municipalities.”
“I think the time to deal with that is now,” Tisdahl said, “rather than to scream after it happens.”
But Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said that the lawmakers made promises to voters when they passed the increase.
“I don’t think the circumstances have changed,” Wilson said. “If this was going to be the course it should have been the course when it was passed in the first instance.”
“I think that would have been more honest and truthful.”
Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said she’d attended a town hall meeting held by State Sen. Daniel Biss last month.
At that meeting Biss said he favored a graduated income tax, but the deadline has now passed for getting a referendum on the fall election ballot to amend the state constitution to permit that.
Grover said that, failing getting a graduated tax, Biss made a really good case for extension of the current income tax rates.
“Given the size of the hole we’re in and the trajectory of how big it can become,” Grover said, “to right the ship, everybody’s got to feel some pain.”
The legislature has got to deal with it from both the revenue and spending side, Grover said, and they’re doing both.
Wilson replied that he doesn’t agree “with how Springfield continues with its spending,” and the lack of more responsible spending policies, although he added that he’s much more pleased with the actions of the lawmakers who represent Evanston that with the legislature as a whole.
In the end the Rules Committee voted 6-4 in favor of the resolution, with Wilson joined by aldermen Fiske, Braithwaite and Rainey in voting no.
The resolution still requires action at a regular City Council meeting to take effect. That could come as soon as next Monday.