Fair Taxes & Economic Justice
Support A Better Illinois
Citizen Action/Illinois is a leader of the A Better Illinois campaign, which is working to restore our state’s commitment to accountability, fairness and a strong middle class—and to build a thriving middle class with good jobs and successful small businesses. The current way of doing things in Illinois is simply not working.
We all know it. We read about, we live it.
Our long-term fiscal health is unsustainable. Illinois cannot pay its bills.
The middle class and small business owners suffer because our tax system stifles economic expansion. People struggle to find good jobs, with employment growth in Illinois lagging behind the national average as the country climbs out of recession.
Nearly every day seems to bring bad news about harmful cuts—to public school funding, police and public safety, community colleges and universities, health services and more, with additional cuts on the horizon.
Why is this happening? In part because Illinois politicians have had the wrong priorities—continuing to pay for years of government mismanagement and waste, like expensive loopholes for rich corporations and corporate CEOs—rather than protecting priorities like schools, public safety and health care.
It’s time for a new approach.
It’s time for a government with more accountability and less waste.
It’s time for A Better Illinois.
A fair approach — the right approach
The tax system in Illinois is broken and needs to be fixed. Too often, rich people and big corporations avoid paying their fair share.
The middle class pays about twice the rate that the rich pay in Illinois taxes—while Main Street small business owners who create millions of Illinois jobs pay a higher tax rate than big corporations and CEOs that use loopholes to avoid paying their fair share.
In fact, under our current system, small business owners get hit twice; once, because of the dwindling buying power of the middle class and working families; second, by an unfair tax code which requires a storekeeper on Main Street to pay even higher rates as a millionaire CEO.
Illinois' so-called “flat” income tax isn’t actually flat—and it certainly isn’t fair.
It’s behind the times. The federal government and 34 other states, including most of Illinois' neighbors, tax income at different rates based on people's ability to pay.
We need a fair tax for individuals and corporations, where higher rates apply to higher income levels, and lower rates to lower income levels.
A fair tax system is a key part of getting our state's priorities straight. Coupled with steps to cut waste, reduce mismanagement and ensure a more accountable government, it will allow us to protect priorities like education, public safety, and health care.
At the same time, we can stimulate the economy by easing the burden on the middle class—the people who buy the products and services that lead to more jobs across the state, helping Main Street small businesses compete.
Getting to A Better Illinois
The evidence is clear: our tax code is out-of-date, shifts the burden to those who cannot afford it and hampers economic activity. By forcing small business owners and the middle class to pay higher tax rates than rich corporations and multi-millionaire CEOs, our current system takes money out of the pockets of some our state’s best consumers and puts our priorities at risk.
That’s bad for everybody—including for small businesses that depend on a strong middle class for its customer base.
Despite these failings, Illinois lawmakers are prohibited— constitutionally barred—from even considering another option.
At its core, A Better Illinois seeks to empower the people of Illinois—by giving Illinois voters the chance to decide whether to amend the constitution; to let the people decide whether to allow for the option of a Fair Tax approach.
To oppose this legislation is to deny the people of Illinois a voice in this matter and to deny them the simple option of considering a new way of doing business. Opposing it means permanently tethering our state to a system that is broken and out-of-date.
As of now, the people of Illinois are stuck with a tax code that stifles job growth and a constitution that stifles debate.
Instead, we can achieve a better approach, one that would achieve fairness and greater government accountability, would protect our priorities and would give our economy a shot in the arm it needs.
Let’s start this conversation. Let’s build A Better Illinois.
Jobs for America Now
The current jobs crisis continues to impact millions of Americans. To address this emergency, Citizen Action/Illinois, and our national partner USAction, have joined Jobs for America Now, a sweeping coalition of over 60 national organizations united in the effort to spur job creation and put America back to work.
As part of the coalition’s efforts, we support:
Direct creation of public service jobs.
To directly create jobs in a cost-effective manner, we must invest in the direct creation of public service jobs in the public- and nonprofit-sector that benefit local communities and make productive use of human capital. To be most effective, these programs should be targeted at communities hit hardest by unemployment. These jobs should be available to every unemployed worker and pay prevailing wages. Moreover, we must guard against the displacement of public employees.
The types of work may vary, depending on the communities’ need. Examples include environmental clean-up, stream restoration, community policing, before- and after-school care of children, demolition or boarding up of abandoned houses and buildings, parks improvements, home health care and preservation of historic buildings. In addition, health care implementation will provide an opportunity for job creation in many communities.
Investments on infrastructure, especially school construction, maintenance, and repair.
We can and must create jobs by meeting the tremendous need for repairing our nation’s infrastructure. The nation’s schools, for example, could quickly and effectively spend $10 billion on repairs and maintenance, which would effectively provide jobs for 1.5 million construction workers along with the countless other unemployed workers in the supplier industries and those generated when the newly-employed spend their salaries. Additionally, Congress must take action on the transportation reauthorizations in the Clean Water Act which will create hundreds of thousands of jobs in construction, manufacturing, design and engineering.
Progressive taxes/revenue to finance job creation and economic recovery.
In order to invest in job creation and economic recovery, we must enact tax increases on the wealthiest individuals and corporations who have reaped the benefits when the economy was healthy. With the extension of the Bush tax cuts, the lowering of the Estate tax rate, and the increase in corporate tax loopholes, we face massive debt and budget shortfalls well into the future. It is critical that Congress continue to fight to bring taxes back to their historic levels and continue to shift revenues to job creation.