If one of Logan Square’s lawmakers has his way, Illinois residents could go to college tuition-free in 2018.
Illinois Rep. Will Guzzardi (D) has posted a petition online to gather support for free tuition at state schools for Illinois residents. He announced a new coalition called Tuition Free Illinois, which he’s spearheading, to gather support for the effort. Tuition Free Illinois includes Chicago Votes, Chicago Student Action, Young Chicago Authors and College Democrats of Illinois, Guzzardi writes on Facebook.
Guzzardi says Democrats need to do more than just oppose Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s policies, and calls on fellow Democrats in the Illinois legislature to lay out an agenda of their own. He says his tuition proposal is the first step in that process.
In his Sept. 15 Facebook post, Guzzardi describes the free tuition proposal as “the kind of transformative investment we’ll need to rescue higher education in our state from the brink of extinction.” He said the state would pay for tuition for in-state students by closing tax loopholes for corporations and by “raising progressive revenues.”
Guzzardi is leading the effort in the Illinois House of Representatives. He says he’ll introduce the bill in the 2017 session, but he has no illusions about how it’ll go.
“I suspect that this will be very difficult to pass in the current political climate,” Guzzardi writes in an email to LoganSquarist. “But we’re going to push, and we’re going to work to elect leaders who will support these kinds of bold progressive ideas.”
Rauner will be up for re-election in 2018.
Update: Guzzardi provided more information about the tax loopholes that would generate revenue for this proposal. The additional information appears below.
Guzzardi said a millionaire’s tax combined with changes to corporate tax law would provide the necessary revenue for free tuition. In an email, Guzzardi said the loopholes could include decoupling from federal depreciation and domestic production deductions (in other words, not providing the same tax breaks that the federal government does to companies with aging equipment or companies that produce products in the U.S.).
He also proposed eliminating the Single Sales Factor, which is a way of determining corporate income taxes by looking only at a corporation’s sales, not their other potential tax liabilities, property and payroll. A corporation with sales, payroll and property in the state only pays corporate income tax on its sales, not on the other two factors, even though they contribute to income.
Lastly, Guzzardi mentioned reforming the sales tax vendor discount, which is a discount given to retailers in exchange for them calculating and collecting sales taxes.
In his email, Guzzardi estimated these changes would bring in $600 million a year. DNAinfo reports that Guzzardi said the total cost would come to about $2 billion a year; he also said that the millionaire’s tax would get the state “most of the way there” and the above tax changes would cover the rest.
Guzzardi’s petition is located here.