The following guest post is from A Better Illinois, an organization "working to restore our state’s commitment to accountability, fairness and a strong middle class."
Senate expected to vote on Fair Tax Act today; citizens from all corners of the state demand a ‘YES’ vote from legislators in both chambers to put Fair Tax on November ballot
An enthusiastic crowd of over 1,000 - waving signs that read “Let Voters Decide” and “Fair Tax = Tax Cut,” while chanting “we want a vote” and “Fair Tax now” – gathered today at the state capitol. With just 72 hours until the deadline to pass the Fair Tax Act, they demanded lawmakers vote ‘YES’ on resolutions that would put the Fair Tax on the November ballot. A Fair Tax – with lower rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes – is supported by 77% of Illinois voters.
DeAundra Tunstall, a child care provider from the Metro East area, attended today’s rally and pleaded with legislators to give citizens a vote. “Please help us fight to put this on the ballot for November,” she said.
The tax relief provided with a Fair Tax would help her clients put food in their refrigerators and purchase other necessities, she added.
Dan Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and a high school English teacher of seventeen years, told the crowd of a recent visit to an East St. Louis school, which did not have enough textbooks for their students.
“If there are 28 kids in a class, you ought to have 28 textbooks. Those textbooks shouldn’t be ripped and torn, without covers. Those textbooks shouldn’t be 10 years old,” said Montgomery. “This is injustice and it’s built into our tax system. It’s built into an unfair, inequitable, and unjust tax system…There’s a solution. Let the people decide.”
Dr. Christopher Dupuis, co-owner of Wheatland Animal Hospital of Naperville, spoke about the benefits of a Fair Tax for small businesses. Dupuis said a Fair Tax would be a tax cut for the vast majority of his clients and employees.
“Jobs open up because there is demand,” said Dupuis. Noting that 94% of Illinois residents would receive a tax cut - with the median income earner getting more than $300 in tax relief - Dupuis told the crowd “you all create demand.”
“For too long we have waited for fairness. For too long we have waited to strengthen our economy,” said Chief House Sponsor Christian Mitchell. He echoed Dr. Dupuis, noting low and middle income earners create jobs.
“A Fair Tax is better for Illinois, top to bottom east to west, north to south. And it’s because of the work you’re doing to make sure senators and our representatives listen to the people. Let the people decide,” Chief Senate Sponsor Don Harmon told the crowd.
The first four months of 2014 have seen a robust discussion about abandoning our state’s unfair, regressive ‘flat’ tax – that results in low and middle income Illinoisans paying two to three times the tax rate that the richest 1% pay – and has put the Fair Tax on the brink of passage, which would continue the conversation into November and let Illinois voters have the final say.
Under the Fair Tax rates proposed by Chief Senate sponsor Don Harmon and Chief House sponsor Christian Mitchell in SB350, 94% of Illinoisans earning up to $205,000 would receive a tax cut over what they currently pay – with residents earning the median income of $55,137 receiving a $303 break. The proposal would also avoid draconian cuts to vital services like education, health and human services, and public safety currently on the table if 2011 rates are allowed to simply expire.
Currently, Illinois lawmakers are prohibited—constitutionally barred—from enacting a Fair Tax. The Fair Tax Act simply allows citizens to vote in the upcoming November election on whether or not they want a Fair Tax. The effective deadline for lawmakers to put a Fair Tax on the ballot is Thursday, May 1st.
Images: A Better Illinois