Forty-one protesters with Fair Economy Illinois were arrested Monday after they blocked the entrances of the Chicago Board of Trade building as part of their campaign for a "LaSalle Street tax," or a tax on financial transactions to generate state revenue. Progress Illinois provides highlights from the protest.
Dozens of Illinois activists concerned over the state budget impasse were arrested Monday afternoon after staging an act of civil disobedience at the Chicago Board of Trade building.
The 41 "Moral Monday" protesters -- who were calling for a "LaSalle Street tax," or a tax on financial transactions to generate state revenue -- were arrested after they blocked the entrances of the building at 141 W. Jackson St.
Hundreds attended the protest, organized by Fair Economy Illinois, a group that favors "fair-share" revenue options over deep budget cuts. The group says a $1 to $2 tax on financial transactions made at the Chicago Board of Trade, Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board Options Exchange could generate an estimated $10 billion in annual revenue for the state.
"Rauner and his billionaire friends would have us believe the cuts are necessary. We're told that there is no alternative. We are told that the state just does not have the money to fund vital social services, but we know that that is a lie," Fair Economy Illinois leader Toby Chow said at the Thompson Center, where protesters gathered before marching to the Chicago Board of Trade.
"The wealthiest individuals in this state pay far less than their fair share in taxes and two-thirds of corporations that do business in Illinois pay nothing -- nothing -- in income tax to the state," Chow added.
Activists held signs that read, "No cuts! Tax the rich!" They chanted, "Hey you, billionaires. Pay your fair share!"
Check out scenes from the demonstration:
Fair Economy Illinois took aim at the Chicago Board of Trade during the fifth month of the state budget impasse, which is negatively impacting a number of state programs and social services. Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic lawmakers continue to be at odds over a spending plan for the 2016 fiscal year, which began July 1.
Before the new fiscal year began, Democrats passed a 2016 budget that was $4 billion short. Democrats, who hold supermajorities in both chambers, were looking to close that gap with new revenues, but have not approved a tax increase.
Rauner, who vetoed most of the Democrat-backed budget because of its shortfall, has said that he is open to passing legislation that brings in new revenues if his proposed pro-business, anti-union reforms are put into place.
The protesters on Monday saw support from state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) and state Reps. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago), Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) and Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago). Speaking to the crowd at the Thompson Center, the elected officials blasted Rauner specifically over his cuts to the state's subsidized child care program and proposals to weaken unions in the state. They also called for progressive revenue options in Illinois, including a graduated income tax.
"We know what a fair solution to this crisis looks like," Guzzardi told the crowd. "It looks like progressive revenues that ask the very wealthy and the biggest corporations to pay their fair share and fund the resources we need."
Mitchell added, "The only long-term solution to this crisis is making sure that we have a tax system that moves from being primarily for the wealthy and those who are well connected to one that prioritize(s) the middle class. And the primary way we do that is by having a progressive income tax in Springfield."
Here is more from Guzzardi, Mitchell and Fair Economy Illinois' Chow:
The idea of taxing financial transactions has failed to gain traction among elected officials at the state level and in Chicago.
Sara Buck, who attended the protest, argued that "corporations and big banks who are trading on the Board of Trade" can afford what amounts to a .002 percent tax on financial transactions. She called on lawmakers to pass a financial transaction tax so that children across the state can "get the kinds of services they need to succeed."