Evanston’s new state representative, Robyn Gabel, two days before her formal swearing in Sunday, promised a dozen leaders of local school and non-profit groups today that she’ll vote for a state income tax hike.

Evanston’s new state representative, Robyn Gabel, two days before her formal swearing in Sunday, promised a dozen leaders of local school and non-profit groups today that she’ll vote for a state income tax hike.

Gabel takes notes as YWCA head Karen Singer talks about funding shortfalls.

Meeting at the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, the leaders complained that their programs are being gutted by the state’s budget crisis.

Karen Singer, executive director of the YWCA, said its domestic violence prevention programs have lost a quarter of their state funding over the past two years.

Karen Hunt, president of the League of Women Voters of Evanston, said she’s seen in her other role as an executive with First Bank & Trust of Evanston how the state cuts have had a dramatic impact on the non-profits that the bank lends funds to.

“Budget cuts have spread through the whole fabric of organizations,” Hunt said.

Judy Hoffman of the North Suburban Library System said the organization suffered a 16.5 percent budget cut last year and now, with only 10 weeks left in the fiscal year, it’s still owed 43 percent of the funding it was promised by the state.

Jeanne Luft, president of the School District 65 teachers union, said 20,000 school employees are projected to lose their jobs across the state this year.

“Research says early intervention is what matters” in assuring student success, Luft said, and Illinois is going backwards by cutting funding for key programs like pre-kindergarten education.

Gabel is transitioning out of her current job heading a non-profit to take the house seat. She won the five-way Democratic primary in February, and when incumbent Julie Hamos was appointed to head a state agency last week that cleared the way for Gabel to get an early start on her legislative career.

She said that although the state constitution bars a graduated income tax, she’d like to see the tax hike coupled with an increase in the earned income credit and other measures that would shift more of the tax burden to high-income families.

“We have to get money from where it is,” she said, “and that’s in the top 20 percent of people who make the most.”

She said she also favors expanding the income tax to cover all services which now are exempt from the income tax and creating an alternative minimum tax for corporations so they can no longer escape paying income taxes in Illinois.

Gabel argued that Illinois residents now have one of the lowest overall tax burdens — federal, state and local — in the nation, ranking 43rd among the 50 states.

Mark Metz, a District 202 school board member and former head of the city’s blue ribbon panel on pensions, said the state also needs to face up to its pension crisis.

Metz said chronic underfunding of public employee pensions, and legislative mandates for increased benefits, have created an untenable situation in which the pension debt threatens to crowd out funding for all other programs.

The teachers’ pension fund paid out almost twice as much money last year as was paid in, Metz said. “It’s devastating,” he added, “an enormous emerging liability.”

A coalition of groups backing higher state taxes, called the Responsible Budget Coalition, plan to rally in Springfield next Wednesday. Lutz said she expects as many as 13,000 people to turn out.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. More taxes from Democrats to feed the union beast
    Where does Gabel come up with the stat that Illinois ranks 43rd in the lowest tax burden in the nation.

    Cook County has the highest sales tax in the nation.


    Illinois ranks 48th in job creation and 49th in bond ratings. The state has lagged behind the nation’s average job growth since 1990!

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks Illinois an unfriendly 45th in the U.S. — with Chicago and Cook County ranked No. 1 nationwide for “Least Fair and Reasonable Litigation Environment”!

    A report from the American Legislative Exchange Council says a “decade’s worth of hard data suggests that states with no individual income tax created 89 percent more jobs, and had 32 percent faster personal income growth, than did states with the highest income tax rate.”

    Obamacare is raising taxes on businesses during a severe Recession.

    And now Gabel not even in office yet can’t wait to raise income taxes on individuals but on corporations as well.

    The pension mess is because the Democrats have negotiated sweetheart and unsustainable deals with the unions over the years that the state never could afford. The Democrats are in bed with the unions and now simply want to keep the status quo in hard times with their powerful union constituents by taxing us even more.

    You can’t tax and spend your way out of a Recession.

    It’s too bad voters did not have an alternative choice other than union-supported Democrats.

  2. She has not even been sworn
    She has not even been sworn in and wants to raise taxes–what happens next?

  3. Chomping at the bit to raise taxes
    Boy she could not wait.
    Unions and patronage + $$$$
    Pension and Benefit promises + $$$$
    Useless projects for voters to get re-elected +$$$$ though with the district in the Democrats, unions, and lawyers pockets why bother to even campaign
    Taxpayers – $$$$
    Economy down, down, down
    Evanston More taxes, loss of jobs, loss of business, loss of residents

  4. I am glad she is sticking to
    I am glad she is sticking to her guns – she campaigned on this, she won her election on this, and she is doing the right thing for schools, healthcare and public safety.

    Glad she isn’t chickening out like every other politician in Springfield.

  5. R U 51 and retiring with great healthcare and $ 2,000,000+ ??
    It seems a bit premature for Robyn Gabel to be endorsing a tax increase before she assumes office and fully understands the issues. Raising taxes (Revenue part of equation) does not address the fundamental underlying issues (Cost part of equation)

    The fiscal challenges confronting our State and City did not just occur overnight. EVERY politician at the local and state level who served over the last 20+ years contributed to our situation either through benign neglect, deceit or incompetence. Today we are faced with a very difficult situation with no easy answers. Just raising taxes won’t suffice. We need to revisit every and all programs to ask ourselves; do we need all these services?…are there more efficient ways to get things done?…is it “fair”?

    Circling back to the subject heading, “R U 51 and retiring with great healthcare and $ 2,000,000+ ??” is a case in point. How many Evanstonians are in this situation? How many people in Illinois have this luxury? NOT MANY…except if you are the current Fire Chief in Evanston. On May 20th, 2010 Fire Chief Alan Berkowsky will be retiring after a 29 years of dedicated service with the Evanston Fire Department. He’s a great person and worked hard, but should he be allowed to retire at age 51? Should he be allowed to receive $ 97,000 per year in cash which will increase 3% per year so that by year 2034 he’ll be receiving
    $194,000 per year PLUS great healthcare benefits? I love our firemen and Fire Chief Berkowsky’s service is explemplary, but this is just one example of what’s happening with our pension funds that’s contributing to the fiscal fiasco in our state. Yes, alderman and state legislatures “looked the other way” and didn’t appropriately fund pensions every year, and there are many other contributing factors…BUT the point is Robyn Gabel can’t just raise taxes as the first step to address our state’s fiscal problems. Today we’re firing teachers and closing the branch libraries, tomorrow…Ecology Center?

    Robyn Gabel et al (Senator Schoenberg, Karen Singer, Karen Hunt, Judy Hoffman, Jeanne Luft),need to take a step back, think about the issues, figure out solutions from both a revenue and cost perspective and then develop appropriate legislation.

    If this doesn’t happen, the Democratic Party and our Candidates will suffer the consequences at the local and state level.

  6. Fix the problems 1st and know your facts Robyn
    An earlier comment cited Evanston’s current Fire Chief. What about Evanston’s former Police Chief, Frank Kaminski? He “retired” at age 54 to become head of Safety @ ETHS. Effective July 2009 he is now Police Chief in Park Ridge. Is he collecting a pension from his service in Evanston and a paycheck from his job in Park Ridge concurrently? If so, this so called pension “double dipping” is costing taxpayers (you and me) a lot of money. This money could be spent on teachers who are now getting fired, better services for the homeless, food for the unemployed etc.

    Robyn, make the pension system fair, eliminate waste, and work to fix the political corruption in Illinois – these actions will begin to restore confidence in our government. AND then, and only then, seek to raise taxes.

    And by the way Robyn, where did you come up with the statistic that “Illinois ranks 43rd in the lowest tax burden in the nation?” This “fact” doesn’t make sense, but i could be wrong.
    As a responsible elected official, i hope you will be accountable to your constituency for your statements and actions.

  7. Taking the easy route
    It is sad to see politicians taking the easy way out to balance a budget instead of addressing the issues. Anyone can raise taxes to balance a budget. Politicians need to find better ways to run the government, otherwise even a Jr. High student council could do their job.

  8. U must be joking!
    I was shocked to read that ANYONE in Illinois would propose a tax hike. California just did that and things are going to Hades even faster than before. I believe Illinois already has the nation’s highest sales tax, and I don’t know about income.
    At some point we’ve all got to be disciplined and/or learn that when money runs out, there may be a case of “there isn’t any more.” Then everyone tightens their belts and gets down to business. Do we give our kids more money if they just spend what they had? No, not at all. There is no “lesson” in that.
    I hope to return to the area one day in the not too distant future. Please don’t replicate the California way. IT DOESN’T WORK!!
    Maybe you guys need a better candidate!

  9. Forget it, Gabel
    As an independent, this firmly puts me into the hands of the GOP. I’m hoping there are many others out there me like who’ve had enough of the greedy democrats who insist on growing the public sector. Enough is enough already. Let’s cut ALL taxes and start shrinking the public sector.

  10. Anonymous Al
    First of all, your screen name is absurd.

    You complain RELENTLESSLY.

    It makes me cringe to read your whining. But I love, love, love helping pathetic grumps like you find happier times. Call me a bleeding heart for sour republicans.

    I have a suggestion for you. If you want low taxes, small government and great weather move to Mexico. They don’t pay their civil servants hardly anything. The police, more violent and corrupt that the criminals they are supposed to arrest, are a joke. It takes close to an hour for an ambulance to arrive if, God forbid, you are unlucky enough to need one. The transit system is another joke- roads are cracked, failing and seem to be hand made without modern technology like surveys or levels. The justice system, if you can call it that, is not based on English common law so civil litigation is all but non-existent which is great for you if you are business owner (you can literally get away with murder.) They do have a lot of oil and miles of sunny (increasingly polluted) beaches. You won’t encounter Unions or work rules or pensions or bond ratings in Mexico. In sum, it sounds like a dream come true for a person like you. Please, go now.

    1. Not Mexico
      “I have a suggestion for you. If you want low taxes, small government and great weather move to Mexico”

      I think you got it wrong…the glorious libertarian paradise is not Mexico (which I believe still has a state-run oil company and land remaining in the ejido system).

      The place to go, for those who wish to be free of government tyranny, is sunny Somalia . In addition to having no government, this country is also a friendly environment for relgious-based home schoolers.

  11. mr matz

    I’m sorry you think my screen name is absurd. I’d like to think that I’m anonymous yet you can call me Al.

    I’m not complaining – I’m criticizing the corrupt tax and spend nature of Democrats, citing FACTS.

    It’s interesting to note that many here who oppose my conservative posts respond with insults and suggestions to go somewhere else. In other words, either listen to me or “shut up stupid, sit down or take a hike.”

    I think the public unions along with their Democrat enablers have corrupted our way of government on every level in every way and I provide FACTS to support my opinion. Your response, mrmatz, is to call me a “pathetic grump” that should go and live in Mexico.

    It’s the typical intolerant and arrogant liberal Democrat response I’ve been hearing lately in public discourse – attack and demonize the messenger rather than reply in dissent with reason and facts.

    It’s interesting that you brought up the Mexican government because that government has something in common with the Democratic party – they are both rife with corruption.

    And I understand the Mexican socialized healthcare system is in shambles. Out of the 100 million Mexicans, only 3 million get healthcare through private insurance – the rest are covered in six government-run social security institutions. Of course, private health insurance is preferred in Mexico. The kind of healthcare system Mexico has is where ObamaDemcare is taking America.

    So mrmatz, no thank you on Mexico. I love it where I am and will continue to do my part to undo the damage that Democrats have done to this city, county, state and now nation.

    And please, mrmartz, I certainly don’t want you to cringe next time I post. So I suggest if you can’t listen to reason and cited facts then simply scroll down to the next post or visit websites more suited to your political beliefs such as the Dailykos or Moveon.org.

    I’d be more than happy to debate the issues with you, mrmatz, but you’ve got to come up with something better than calling me a “pathetic grump” that should go and live in Mexico. 🙂

  12. Why not one free country ?
    Why is it the Democrats object to one capitalist and free country in the world ? They are always free to move to England, Cuba, China or Saudia Arabia if they want a different form of government that takes care of them like children [or slaves] or high taxes or any of the other things they don’t like about America.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published.