FILE - IL Gov. J.B. Pritzker signing progressive income tax, 6-5-19

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the state budget and legislation related to a graduated income tax in Illinois, during a bill signing Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at the Thompson Center in Chicago.

Since March, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every part of our lives. The ones most hurt during the pandemic have been America’s small employers. Each month, more and more small businesses have shut their doors due to lack of income. As a small business owner, I have seen it personally.

We are finally starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Businesses have been getting back on their feet the last few months and bringing employees back to work so they can earn a wage and provide for their families. This should be a turning point for small businesses in Illinois. However, our small businesses now face a new threat.

Gov. J. B. Pritzker has proposed a progressive tax and other costs that will devastate businesses and their employees. As a small business owner in Wauconda, I cannot emphasize how bad these policies will be for employers in Illinois. Any profit we are able to make right now would be paid right back in taxes, and this extra cost could shut us down permanently. In the middle of a pandemic – while small businesses are still closed or have fewer customers – Illinois lawmakers want to cause more problems for businesses in our state, and it makes no sense.

Specifically, the governor’s progressive tax plan would impose new taxes up to 60% higher on small business owners. The progressive tax does nothing to address the biggest problem in Illinois: our sky-high property taxes. The progressive tax will cost jobs, slow wage growth, and hurt Illinois workers when we’re already facing the highest unemployment since the Great Depression because of the coronavirus. Worst of all, the progressive tax will raise taxes on the middle class and working poor. If we give Springfield politicians authority to change tax brackets at will, it won’t be long until they hit everyone with higher taxes as the current rates won’t come close to satisfying their thirst for spending.

This tax is sure to ruin thousands of businesses that have struggled to remain afloat. It will stifle income growth for workers and worsen our unemployment crisis in Illinois. Instead of businesses bringing workers back and paying them again, the government wants to shore up the cost of its own failed policies instead – policies taxpayers already paid for.

Before we talk about any additional revenue for the state, Springfield politicians must first work on curtailing irresponsible and bloated state spending that has put us in this position in the first place.

In addition to increasing taxes, Illinois politicians have also been forcing small employers to pay higher wages through massive minimum wage increases phased in over the next several years. Our former $8.25/hour minimum wage a year ago is now $10/hour, will go up to $11/hour on Jan. 1 and surges to $15/hour by 2025 – all at a time when businesses are struggling to keep their workers employed and their doors open.

COVID-19 has put small businesses on life support because of the lockdowns, and state and federal aid has been slow and hard to come by. Springfield politicians proposing these polices shows a lack of knowledge of how small businesses operate and how their priorities are not with Illinois’ struggling workers and small businesses, but are instead centered around shoring up their own poor government spending.

Illinoisans should not have to shoulder the burden of bad decisions from the government. Lawmakers must listen to their constituents and say no to policies that will cripple our small businesses and put more workers on the unemployment lines.

Bob Goray of Cary is the owner of J.S. Goray, Inc. in Wauconda.