SPRINGFIELD – Today, as the Governor gave his budget address, hundreds of activists from throughout the state took to the capitol for a Valentine’s Day-themed rally to demand a full budget and a fair tax for the people of Illinois. The event was the first major action of the Fair Tax Now campaign, a new statewide effort to put a fair tax on the ballot in 2018.
“We are here today to make sure the Governor and the General Assembly know that we must stand up for what is right, and that means speaking up for all of Illinois, demanding that our state create a tax system that stops favoring billionaires and protects 90 percent of the rest of the state,” said William McNary, co-director of Citizen Action Illinois. “This Valentine’s Day, we’re asking Governor Rauner to have a heart and help us stabilize our state’s finances in a way that strengthens our communities and supports the middle class.”
The Fair Tax Now campaign is led by the Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC), with the goal of passing a constitutional amendment that will put a fair tax on Illinois ballots this fall. Seventy-two percent of Illinoisans support a fair tax structure that will equalize Illinois’ imbalanced tax system and provide structural relief to resolve the state’s longtime budget woes.
“Today, we see the strength and the impact this issue has on so many people,” said State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights). “People from all over the state showed up today to share their stories, to voice their concerns and to speak up for what is right. And I agree with them: Now is the time for us to support Illinois’ middle and working classes by passing a fair tax.”
In Illinois, people earning the lowest incomes spend three times as much of their income on state and local taxes as the wealthy. A fair tax would equalize this imbalance while shoring up the state’s finances to making it possible to improve the state services on which everyday Illinoisans rely.
“Too many families in my district are still struggling from the impact that our budget impasse created,” said State Representative Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago). “By modernizing our tax code, Illinois can finally invest in building the stronger communities we all want to live in—supporting good schools, healthy families, thriving colleges and safe streets, while also improving the business climate.”
The rally was organized by the RBC, a large and diverse coalition of more than 300 organizations concerned about state budget and tax issues. The coalition works to serve many civic sectors by addressing the need for a fully funded budget with new revenue to invest in Illinois’ children, families, and communities.
Members of the RBC gathered outside the Lincoln Statue. The day’s agenda included chants, songs, and testimonials from nonprofit, union, political and faith leaders. Members of the coalition also delivered a large valentine to Governor Bruce Rauner urging him to “have a heart” and support a full budget and fair tax.
“For too long, our system has broken the hearts of too many citizens,” said RBC member and Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) Executive Director Tanya Watkins. “Today we are taking a stand for a budget and tax plan that works for everyone—not just for the wealthy. This rally was an important step in making our voices and goals heard.”
The Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC) is a coalition of 300+ organizations from across the state fighting for a fully funded budget with new revenue that invests in Illinois children, families and communities. It includes organizations that serve children, families, veterans, seniors and people with disabilities; education groups concerned about early learning, K-12 and higher education; labor unions; faith-based and civic organizations; immigrant and refugee families; and many others. The RBC has launched the Fair Tax Now campaign to create awareness around the need to put a fair tax on the ballot for 2018. To learn more, visit www.FairTaxNowIL.com, and follow @RespBudgetIL and www.facebook.com/ResponsibleBudgetCoalition.