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Members join the call for tax fairness

4/30/2014

IFT members joined Illinoisans from around the state today to demand that legislators let voters decide on whether this state’s citizens deserve a Fair Tax.

Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Capitol in Springfield, chanting “We are the 94 percent!” as they kicked off Citizen Action Lobby Day, sponsored by the A Better Illinois (ABI) coalition. A bevy of speakers took the stage to rally the crowd before they headed inside to lobby their elected officials.

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IFT President Dan Montgomery jump started the event by asking, “Do we want justice or injustice? Do we want fairness of unfairness? Let the voters decide. Let’s get a Fair Tax now!”

The union has been a key supporter of ABI and the call for a Fair Tax, which would cut taxes for 94 percent of Illinois taxpayers. Lower income earners would pay less, while those earning higher incomes would pay more. A Fair Tax would fix Illinois’ broken structural revenue problem by creating a sustainable system that would help fund critical programs, including PreK-16 education and state services.

To enact a Fair Tax, voters must pass a Constitutional Amendment this November. But first the General Assembly has to approve the Fair Tax Act by May 1 to put it on the ballot. Time is quickly running out.

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Senators Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago), chief sponsors of the Fair Tax legislation, explained the need to pass the bill. “We’ve waited too long for fairness. We’ve waited too long to better the economy,” said Mitchell. “This bill will do just that.”

Middle-class workers from around the state took the podium to talk about out how a Fair Tax would impact their communities. Wendy Juarez, a working single mother from Chicago, explained that it would help fund essential programs that support families. “Our communities need the voice a Fair Tax would give us,” she said. “Let our legislators know who they were elected to represent!”

IFT Lobby Day was held in conjunction with the ABI event. Before heading to the rally, members attended a briefing about key issues, including the need for a Fair Tax.

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The Fair Tax is in our members’ best interests, said Aaron Johnson-Ortiz and Juan Bernal, activists in the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO), Local 6300, at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. “Most of our members would see savings of at least $260 per year,” they said. “That’s a month’s rent for many. A Fair Tax would really make a difference.”

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Lana Myers, vice president of the Peoria Federation of Teachers, Local 780, put it simply. “We’re tired of the status quo,” she said. “We’ve got to come up with a revenue solution that is doable, and a Fair Tax is just that.”


UPDATE: Following Lobby Day, the General Assembly adjourned without calling fair tax legislation for a vote, effectively preventing it from being placed on the November ballot. In response, A Better Illinois released the following statement:

While we are certainly disappointed with today's results, the fight for a Fair Tax – which enjoys the support of 77% of Illinois voters – is far from over.  Our statewide grassroots campaign, including more than 250,000 petition signatures and the support of more than 750 small businesses, faith leaders, labor and education groups, and civic and community organizations from every corner of the state brought us closer to implementing a Fair Tax in Illinois than ever before.
 
We are confident the days of forced poor choices between unfair, regressive taxation that disproportionately burdens the poor and middle class and continued draconian cuts to the vital investments Illinoisans expect and depend upon are numbered.  The Fair Tax will continue to be an issue in the upcoming elections and in front of lawmakers again as soon as this year’s Veto Session.
 
Today is a sad day for democracy.  This setback – while temporary – was clearly influenced by a well-financed, out-of-state smear campaign in which nearly $1 million was funneled into Illinois to mislead and distort the Fair Tax to both lawmakers and the public.  Our research and our conversations with both voters and lawmakers make us supremely confident that Illinois citizens will ultimately end this unfair, antiquated tax system as the truth about a Fair Tax continues to become evident.

 

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