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The State Budget: What’s at stake, and how you can help

While the school year draws to a close, legislators in Springfield are making critical budget decisions — decisions that could be devastating: larger class sizes, teacher and employee layoffs, and reduced public services. Tens of thousands of students and our most vulnerable citizens could suffer dire consequences. And we are on the brink of this happening. We need your help.

Put simply: the House passed a budget without a way to pay for it.

Last week, lawmakers passed 73 appropriations bills that make up the "recommended" version of Governor Quinn’s budget as presented in March. The IFT urged lawmakers to support this plan that would support education at higher levels and provide the Governor’s recommended funding for other areas, including state universities and other higher education entities.

However, the plan is predicated on extending the current income tax rate, a vote many House Democrats have indicated they aren’t willing to take, despite wanting to stave off inevitable cuts if they don’t.

If the state income tax rate is allowed to drop from 5% to 3.75%, the state will lose roughly $2 billion, with an estimated $967 million less for education overall. To demonstrate what could happen, this week, Speaker Madigan introduced an alternate “doomsday” budget which would gut general state education funding and slash additional line items like special education, bilingual education, and transportation. When faced with this dose of reality, only five legislators voted “yes."

But still, despite intense lobbying efforts in Springfield from the IFT and other advocacy groups, we don’t have the 60 votes we need to protect our communities and pass a tax extension out of the House. Lawmakers need to hear from you. 

Send an email to your legislator, urging support for our schools and the continuation of the 5% income tax rate.

Next week, the House Revenue Committee will consider HB 395 which extends the current 5% tax rate and HB 396 which provides for a corresponding $500 property tax rebate. In addition to sending your legislator an email, you can show your support for these measures by filing an electronic witness slip.

Politicians often talk about “doing what’s right for our kids.” Remind them that next week, they have a real opportunity to do just that.




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