Springfield, IL – Nearly 1,000 citizens gathered at the Capitol Building in Springfield today, loudly denouncing a House committee vote in progress that stalled fair tax legislation in the short term, while standing with Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and a dozen other legislators to demand Springfield politicians pass the Fair Tax Act. With less than 40 days until the May 4th deadline, citizens from every corner of Illinois rallied in the Rotunda and later met with their representatives to demand a chance to vote on a fair tax in November.
“Do not despair the action in the House today,” Sen. Harmon declared to thundering applause. “This fight has just begun!” Harmon promised the Senate would continue to leadon the Fair Tax Amendment, while Speaker Madigan’s proposed millionaire’s tax advanced to a full House vote. Harmon and others stressed the need to pass a fair tax to ensure tax relief for 94% of Illinois families, in addition to the higher rates for higher incomes in a millionaire’s tax.
A fair tax, with lower rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes, is supported by 77% of Illinois voters. Currently, Illinois lawmakers are prohibited — constitutionally barred—from enacting a fair tax. The Fair Tax Act allows citizens to vote on whether to not they want a fair tax in the upcoming November election. On Tuesday Harmon unveiled a fair tax rate structure that cut taxes for 94% of Illinoisans, including everyone earning up to $200,000.
“The choice we have is to extend the flat tax or to cut 13,400 teachers from the classroom, to take 95,000 kids off of early childhood education, to say ‘no’ to 30,000 college students wishing to get a MAP grant, to close 11 prisons and release 15,000 prisoners, to lay off 3,000 corrections officers, to cut the state police by 30%,” said Sen. Harmon. “This is a third way. This is a way to provide the services people need and to do so in a way that provides tax relief for 94% of Illinois families.”
“It’s not right that a home care worker like me who makes on average $13,000 a year should pay the exact same tax rate as a CEO who makes $1.3 million dollars every year,” said Yvette Anderson. “We all know there is something very unfair about that.”
Anderson, a home care provider from Chicago, was joined by Faith Arnold, who owns her own child care business in Chicago’s west suburbs. “Critical programs like child care are constantly under threat of devastating cuts, and access has already been reduced for a number of Illinois families who need quality care so they can go to work and support themselves and their children,” said Arnold.
Mark Garrity, owner of Garrity Equipment Company of Downers Grove told the crowd that a fair tax is essential for Illinois’ small businesses. “There’s no surer way to grow Illinois’ small businesses and create jobs than a fair tax that puts more money in the hands of lower and middle income taxpayers, empowering them to spend that money supporting my business and businesses throughout Illinois,” said Garrity.
Arne Waltmire, a high school automotive teacher from McHenry County, noted that good schools draw people and businesses to communities in Illinois. He cited a news article about citizens in the Quad Cities moving to Iowa, a fair tax state, because their schools receive better support from the state. Waltmire noted that Illinois ranks dead-last in state support of education and often the state is late paying its bills to local school districts.
“We can’t rely on the Springfield to provide stable funding for our schools. Local school districts don’t know where their funding will come from and when,” said Waltmire. “I expect my teenage students to turn in their homework in on time. Why do I expect more from teenagers than adults in Springfield?”
For months, the large and growing statewide coalition known as A Better Illinois has been advocating for a fair tax. It has drawn support from every single legislative district – Republican and Democrat – including nearly 250,000 petition signatures, nearly 500 community and civic organizations, including both business and labor alike.