Mussman reportedly dismisses constituents' concerns with progressive tax proposal
The debate over whether to use higher taxes to cope with Illinois’ budget woes recently took a turn when citizens petitioning their state representative for lower taxes were dismissed with a simple change in terminology.
Apparently, whether a citizen is a “constituent” or an “activist” plays a role in determining when their elected leaders pay attention to their views.
According to the Illinois Policy Institute, when Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) was recently shown a petition 1,000 of her constituents had signed, she dismissed it.
“Tell your activists they can keep doing this, but I won’t participate,” Mussman is quoted as saying in an opinion piece on the institute’s website.
“‘Activist’ is an interesting way to describe constituents," Austin Berg, director of content strategy, writes in the institute’s article.
It may have been only 1,000 people, but the issue is foundational in a midterm election year, especially in a state beset by the nation’s highest tax burden.
Mussman's tone when confronted with the petition was far different from her stance at a town hall meeting with her Hoffman Estates constituents. In a YouTube video of the May 2 meeting, Mussman seemed evasive when an attendee asked her position on the proposed progressive tax House resolution.
"I think we as a general public ought to have a conversation about what's good tax policy in our state," she said in the video. "I haven't taken a position yet; I'm trying to keep an open mind."
Mussman’s 56th District challenger in November is Republican Jillian Bernas, winner of the primary with 60 percent of the votes. On her campaign website, Bernas states she will not support property tax increases and favors policies she says are conducive to business growth.
By definition, a progressive tax increase taxes those with larger incomes at a higher rate than those earning less, but as the Illinois Policy Institute points out, Democratic proposals for progressive tax reform have been targeting specific income tax groups.
Republicans last month blocked a proposed constitutional amendment to raise taxes, but House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) has since introduced a new resolution in favor of progressive taxes.