Lawmaker pushes for tax reform, stand against Party leaders

SPRINGFIELD — One state lawmaker says broad tax reform is the solution to the budget stalemate.

In legislation he plans to introduce this weeks, State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) will propose closing tax loopholes and eliminating what he considers to be unfair credits for businesses. He says those changes can help the state pass a balanced budget without an income tax increase.

He’s even advocating for closing one business-focused state agency.

“If I were the governor, I would close the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity,” Franks said. “I’ve seen no value in what we’ve been doing in giving these huge amounts of money to corporations to incent them to do things they would otherwise normally do.”

Franks also mentions evaluating or eliminating EDGE (Economic Development for a Growing Economy) tax credits as part of his plan.

Even though the state is now two months into the fiscal year without a budget, Franks doesn’t think it’s too late to consider large reforms like what he’s suggesting. He believes it can pass if some legislators go against their party leaders.

“I think the Republicans ought to stop following (Gov. Bruce) Rauner. I think the Democrats ought to stop following (House Speaker Michael) Madigan, and the General Assembly ought to step up and do our job,” Franks said. “I think we could fix this problem if we weren’t so beholden to our leadership.”