SPRINGFIELD — Gov. J.B. Pritzker Wednesday defended his proposed tax increases to pay for a capital bill against critics who said they will disproportionately hurt the poor.
Pritzker acknowledged some of the proposed taxes might be considered regressive, but he said they also represent a stable source of income.
"In order to put an infrastructure bill together, you've got to have various revenue sources," Pritzker said. "It's important that they are stable revenue sources because you need to bond them out."
Investors want to know there is a reliable revenue source behind bonds they invest in.
Pritzker proposed more than $1.7 billion in tax and fee increases to finance the $41.5 billion program. That included doubling the state's gasoline tax and raising license plate fees. Those two alone account for more than $1 billion of the increases.
Pritzker also proposed higher taxes on alcoholic beverages, video gaming and a new tax on cable, satellite and streaming services.
Critics have said some of those taxes will fall most heavily on the poor who can least afford them. They contend the tax hikes will largely negate any breaks lower-income people will get from Pritzker's highly touted graduated income tax.
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Pritzker agreed that many state taxes are flat taxes that tend to be regressive.
"The one where you can absolutely try to change the trajectory of that system is the income tax system," he said, touting his plan that he says will give tax relief to 97 percent of taxpayers.
Pritzker also indicated he won't be engaging in horse trading with lawmakers to win support for a capital plan.
Pritzker, who outlined his $41.5 billion infrastructure program last week, said "there are a number of projects that just need to be done."
"There are bridges and roads and highways and that are falling apart," Pritzker said. "We need to put some money into those to make sure they don't fall apart. We need to advance the economic interests of the state so we have projects in there that are about that."
Pritzker said individual members have had input into the capital plan, but that doesn't mean the administration is promising projects to secure support.
"We put this capital bill together because we are focused on making sure the infrastructure is solid across the state," Pritzker said. "The members understand we have a huge infrastructure deficit in the state. We've got a lot of work to do here and I think everyone understands that."