The Democratic Party of Evanston is urging state lawmakers to approve what it calls “progressive tax reform that will correct the state’s budget deficit.”

In a letter sent Friday to elected officials, the DPOE’s board of directors said teachers are being fired, social service agencies are closing their doors, and funding cutbacks are jeopardizing public safety throughout the state because of the state budget shortfall.

The board voted unanimously to pass a resolution calling on the Illinois legislature to enact “comprehensive, fair and sustainable fiscal reform.”
Illinois is facing a $13 billion deficit. Meanwhile, the legislature is scheduled to adjourn this week. A new budget must be finalized by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Board members agreed that Illinois residents can no longer stand by while schoolchildren, working people, the ill and the needy suffer the effects of slash-and-burn budgeting.

“Though we live in a state of emergency, many of our elected officials appear to be living in a state of denial,” said DPOE Executive Director Toni Gilpin. “Incredibly, this legislative session may conclude without meaningful action on our budget crisis. This is unacceptable.”

The resolution says cuts under the current budget are unconscionable and unsound and do little to restore the state’s financial integrity. “Temporary, band-aid solutions” must be eschewed in favor of “comprehensive fiscal reforms that are fair, responsive, stable and efficient,” the resolution states.

The DPOE said the state must bring in more revenue, which necessitates a reasonable income tax increase. The DPOE calls for legislation which would:

  • Provide a significant property tax reduction for homeowners and senior citizens living on a fixed income by doubling the state income tax credit taxpayers may claim for property taxes;
  • Create tax fairness for low income, working families by increasing the value of the Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit,
  • Generate significant, recurring revenue through a more progressive, elevated income tax to fund priorities like education, health, public safety and human services.

The DPOE board said some legislators have maintained that meaningful reform is impossible because talk of tax increases makes voters uncomfortable. “We reject such a deflection of responsibility,” said Adam Finlayson, President of the Democratic Party of Evanston. “As citizens, we wish to be clear: fair and proportionate tax increases are necessary, and we support them.” Illinois residents hunger for honest talk and real solutions, Finlayson added.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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