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Not Many Happy with Illinois' New State Budget

There's a lot of grumbling in Illinois over the budget lawmakers approved last week. (
There's a lot of grumbling in Illinois over the budget lawmakers approved last week. (
July 10, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois finally has a balanced budget, but it slaps a 32 percent income tax hike on state residents, and it still means cutting programs and services by more than $2 billion.

The income tax increase means individuals will pay 4.95 percent instead of 3.75 percent. The corporate rate jumps from 5.25 percent to 7 percent.

Samantha Nichols, a leader of the coalition Fair Economy Illinois, says because the state has a flat tax rate, people who make the least are going to feel the hardest pinch – and she points out it won't solve the state's money problems.

"The budget that we want generates $23.5 billion in progressive revenue, with one of those revenue sources being a progressive income tax that raises revenue without increasing expenses for houses that have already been burdened by years of austerity," she states.

The budget her group proposed would provide universal health care, convert to all green energy over the next three decades and fully fund pre-K through 12 education, along with free college tuition.

The money would come from closing tax loopholes, enacting a graduated income tax and a tax on the major financial trading based in Chicago.

Elgin resident Andy Grant's message to lawmakers is that their new budget is going to drive people out of the state.

"Of course everyone's going to get frustrated by it and more people are going to leave, and more businesses are going to leave,” he says. “And it shouldn't be a question of why they're leaving, it's just – you guys are making them leave."

Nichols says people who disagree with the new budget can't give up the fight. She says Illinois needs real structural change, especially to ease the burden on lower-income residents.

"This is not the budget we want,” she stresses. “It is not the budget that fixes these structural inequalities and actually invests in our communities."

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL