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Voters Urged to Think of the State’s Strapped Pocketbook

January 28, 2010

CHICAGO - With the primary election just days away, the airwaves are clogged with campaign ads and candidates are making their last pitches to constituents. Human services advocates are urging voters to think about the state budget as they make their final decisions on which candidate they will choose.

Citing an estimated $13-billion budget deficit at the start of the next fiscal year, Bob Palmer, policy director for Housing Action Illinois, says a long-term plan is the only way to get out of the red.

"If people running for office are saying we can get out of this just by cuts alone, I would ask voters to challenge the candidates and ask them to back up those statements with some firm numbers or a firm plan about how they are going do it, because we don't think it can be done."

Palmer is proposing that safeguards be put in place to protect low-income households and the working poor from tax increases, while also ensuring the state gets the money it needs without making cuts to human services.

"To make the tax more progressive so it wouldn't impact low-income households, there'd be an increase in the personal exemptions, a tripling of the Earned Income Tax Credit and property tax relief for homeowners."

Palmer warns that candidates who say they will not increase taxes will instead try to close the budget gap with more cuts to already hard-hit programs like education, health care and human services. As a member of the Responsible Budget Coalition, Palmer is pushing for solutions that include an increase on the individual and corporate income tax rates and a sales tax on luxury services.

Aricka Flowers, Public News Service - IL