Suggested Language and Tips

When advocating for a responsible budget, the language we use can help or hinder our efforts. Stating facts instead of denying myths and speaking to the interests of a broad spectrum of the community will solidify our case.

When conducting advocacy work, it is essential to stay on message. We must convey why a responsible budget is essential for Illinois and how a fair tax will work to put more money into that budget.

Illinois’s tax structure is unfair.

  • Currently, everyone in Illinois pays the same tax rate, regardless of their income. This is fundamentally unfair because when other taxes such as sales taxes are added, middle and working-class families pay significantly more in taxes as a percent of their income than the wealthy.
    • The bottom 20 percent of Illinois residents pay more in total state and local taxes as a share of their income than any other Midwestern State.
  • Illinois ranks as the eighth-most-regressive taxing state in the nation, meaning it is among the worst offenders of state tax systems that make incomes more unequal after taxes than before.

Illinois’s tax structure is also inadequate, leaving the state with a fiscal crisis.

  • Illinois has a $3.2 billion budget deficit this year alone, and a number of long-term challenges.
  • In addition, Illinois’s unpaid bill backlog amounts to about $8.4 billion.
  • Action needs to be taken to address our financial situation and put Illinois on the path to fiscal stability and a balanced budget.

A Fair Tax is the answer for Illinois

  • In states with a fair tax, people with higher incomes pay higher tax rates and people with lower incomes pay lower tax rates—so that everyone pays their fair share.
  • A fair tax is the best way to fix our financial crisis fairly. Poor alternatives include a tax increase on all Illinoisans or drastic cuts to services Illinoisans depend on.
  • The federal government, 33 other state and DC have a fair tax—including four out of Illinois’ five neighboring states have a fair tax, all of which are doing better economically than Illinois.

Under the Governor’s fair tax plan, 97% of Illinois residents would see no income tax increase.

  • Only the 3% of those making more than $250,000 will see their taxes go up, with the largest increases going to those making more than $1 million.
  • This plan not only lifts the burden off middle- and lower-income families who are disproportionately hurt by our current tax structure, but it creates a more fair and just system where everyone can get ahead.
  • The fair tax will raise $3.4 billion a year in much-needed revenue for important priorities like school funding.
  • Recent polls show strong support for the fair tax. It was favored by 78% of respondents to a recent poll conducted by Think Big Illinois, consistent with support seen in two successive polls by the Paul Simon Institute as well.
  • A new study from the University of Illinois shows the fair tax “could narrow Illinois’ growing income disparity, cut property—as well as income—tax bills and deliver billions of dollars in extra annual revenue to combat state deficits and underfunded public schools and infrastructure,” the Associated Press reports.

The Responsible Budget Coalition’s (RBC) website is hosted by the Shriver Center on Poverty Law (Shriver Center).