On July 29, 2014, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed Illinois H.B. 3816—the Tax for Education Referendum Act—which requires that Illinois voters be asked an advisory question of public policy regarding whether Illinois millionaires should pay an additional tax to provide additional funding for Illinois schools.
The following question will appear on the ballot for the general election to be held on Nov. 4, 2014:
Should the Illinois Constitution be amended to require that each school district receive additional revenue, based on their number of students, from an additional 3% tax on income greater than one million dollars?
H.B. 3816 was originally introduced by House Speaker Madigan as a constitutional amendment because Article IX, Section 3(a) of the Constitution of the State of Illinois requires that a “tax on or measured by income shall be at a non-graduated rate.” Constitutional amendments must be approved by 3/5 majorities of the Senate and the House and then must be approved by either 3/5 of the Illinois residents voting on the question or a majority of the Illinois residents voting in the election. Once it became clear that there would not be sufficient support in the House to approve the bill as a constitutional amendment, the bill was amended to request that Illinois residents provide their non-binding opinion on the matter.
Gov. Pat Quinn supported this change to the bill and stated in a press release that “[our] democracy works best when everyone has a voice. Residents across Illinois will now have the opportunity to voice their opinion on whether millionaires should pay a little more to help ensure all students have access to a high-quality education. An investment in education is the best investment we can make for our economic future.”
Illinois residents will have to wait to see if there is sufficient support by the general public for this additional tax on millionaires and what affect such support, if any, will have on the Illinois legislature’s decision to actually amend the state constitution to provide for such tax.