On the eve of Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget address, Illinois social service advocates and grassroots organizations called for solutions to the state's fiscal crisis Tuesday.
The state has been without a spending plan since July 1, the start of the 2016 fiscal year. The budget stalemate has left various social services as well as colleges, universities and tuition assistance for low-income college students unfunded. With that backdrop, Rauner is scheduled to deliver his budget address for the 2017 fiscal year on Wednesday.
The long-running budget impasse has centered around Rauner's push for items on his controversial pro-business, anti-union "turnaround agenda."
On Tuesday, leaders with the Grassroots Collaborative* released what they are calling "a people-focused alternative to the turnaround agenda." Dubbed the "People's Agenda," the plan seeks a variety of "fair-share" revenue proposals. Specifically, it calls for, among other things, "closing corporate loopholes" and "passing a graduated income tax, millionaire tax, and a financial transaction tax" and investing that revenue in public services.
"Right now, families are hurting all across Illinois," Grassroots Collaborative Executive Director Amisha Patel said in a statement. "For over a decade, the state of Illinois has been disinvesting from the vital public services needed to provide opportunity to low and middle income families, create jobs, and bolster the Illinois economy."
Fair Economy Illinois called for similar revenue proposals in a statement the coalition released Tuesday:
Illinois has a budget by default, and it is a budget exclusively for the 1 percent. By dodging their responsibility to invest in Illinois, the super-rich and corporate CEOs are stealing billions of dollars of funding for education, human services and infrastructure to pad their own fortunes and quarterly earnings reports. Governor Rauner, a multimillionaire with a direct interest in low tax rates for corporations and individuals, and Speaker Madigan, an elected official whose power depends upon raising and dispersing campaign cash from wealthy donors, both have an interest in preserving a 1 percent budget. We oppose any budget deal between Rauner and Madigan that makes budget cuts or raises revenue from working people, rather than from corporations and the rich.
Instead, Governor Rauner and Speaker Madigan must put the interests of people and the environment first by raising revenue from big corporations and the rich to invest in the common good. Specifically, we call on them to raise $12 billion annually by passing the LaSalle Street Tax and the progressive income tax, and by closing corporate tax loopholes. This money should immediately be invested in healthcare, education, human services and infrastructure, including a green energy infrastructure that transitions to reliance on renewable energy sources.
Members of the Responsible Budget Coalition also spoke out Tuesday. The advocates urged Rauner "to work with lawmakers to end the current years' budget standoff" and called on "the governor and lawmakers to pass a responsible budget with new revenue to invest in children, families and communities," according to a press announcement.
*SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana is a member organization of Grassroots Collaborative. The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors this website.