Pritzker Kills Johnson’s Financial Transactions Tax

By Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

April 7, 2023

CHICAGO – Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker dashed Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson’s highly controversial plan to tax financial transactions which could gut Chicago’s financial district.

In a meeting on Friday, Johnson, a progressive leftist Democrat, pitched an $800 million dollar tax plan to Pritzker, which would need the approval of the Governor and the Illinois General Assembly.  Pritzker, to his credit, ruled out one of the revenue schemes which would have taxed financial transactions of Chicago businesses, including large financial institutions, such as the CME Group, which operates the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and other trading exchanges.

Even rumors of the transaction tax have already prompted many financial institutions to exit or plan their exit from Chicago and Illinois.  Sad as it is to say, with the demise of active trading floors, CME Group has been laying plans to operate outside of Chicago in the event the transaction tax is passed.  Billionaire Ken Griffin recently pulled up stakes and moved financial giant Citadel to Florida.  Currently, the financial district employs nearly 100,000 Illinoisans.

“What we all want is a thriving financial services economy in Illinois and Chicago. I have not stood for a transaction tax, because I think it would be easy for those companies’ servers to move out of the state. But I do know that the challenge of finding a balance between expenditures and revenue is not lost on me,” Pritzker said in a statement.

Johnson also proposed to impose a $100 million tax increase on aviation fuel at O’Hare and Midway Airports.  If approved, air traffic would most likely decrease as airlines reduce fuel purchases to counter the increase or pass costs onto consumers which would reduce demand for air travel.  The aviation fuel tax would also need the approval of Pritzker, who made no comment on it, and the Illinois General Assembly.

Frank Conklin, Illinois Political Columnist for The Chicago Times.  Views and comments expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the official position of The Chicago Times.