Quick Hit Op-Ed Thursday March 19th, 2015, 5:45pm

OP-ED: Our Days of Discontent With Springfield

The following was written by Jennifer Ritter, executive director of ONE Northside.

The March 11 converging of thousands of everyday working people on Springfield demonstrates the level of outrage with Gov. Rauner's budget proposals. These proposals reveal his lack of concern and even contempt for Illinois' working families and those who depend on social safety net services to survive.

The outpouring also demonstrates our dissatisfaction with our legislators' failure to take a stand and develop a plan to raise revenue in order to preserve life-saving programs for the most vulnerable in our society.

People clearly are tired of politicians rigging the system on behalf of big corporations and the wealthy while our families struggle to get by.

Rauner's single-minded focus on cuts without a mention of revenue-generating options that could soften the blow betrays the level of "compassion" the governor said he would demonstrate while in office.

Among the thousands who swarmed the Capitol Building were college students, people with disabilities, nurses, teachers, those impacted by state cuts to public transportation, and  children currently lacking daycare because of the state revenue crisis.

Consider the impact of a $1.5 billion cut to Medicaid depended upon by our grandparents, retired veterans and people with disabilities in nursing homes or who receive in-home care. The Rauner budget would force many of these vulnerable citizens to lose life saving medical care.

Rauner proudly and frequently proclaims he will work for "the next generation," then in the next breath he cuts the rope that supports many of these children who depend on pre-K and early learning child care. Child care facilities already are closing due to the failure of the governor and the legislature to deal with the immediate crisis by providing supplemental funding to the Child Care Assistance Program.

As Illinoisans watch the situation worsen there has been no mention of a plan for the governor's wealthy corporate and banker friends to play their part in the "shared sacrifice" that his budget presents to us.

Here are a few ideas that Rauner could consider:

*      A 3% tax on incomes over $1 million to generate $1 billion a year. The millionaires who would be impacted make up just .02% of the Illinois population, yet they just benefited the most when our income tax was rolled back on January 1.

*       A 25-cents tax on speculative financial transactions would generate $1.4 billion a year. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange alone makes $2 billion in annual profits, making it one of the most profitable companies in the world. Gov. Rauner's largest campaign donor outside of himself -- Ken Griffin, the richest man in Illinois -- runs a trading firm that recently returned 300+% in profits from high-frequency trading.

The governor has said his budget reflects "thinking anew" and is one "Illinois can afford." If thinking anew results in the devastating impact on teachers, students, the elderly, disabled and our children that this budget presents, then such thinking emanates from a dark place and Illinois is definitely better than that.

We expect Governor Rauner and our legislators to take a bold stance and raise the revenue we desperately need by taxing Big Corporations, LaSalle Street, and the 1%. To do anything less is complicity in the continued deterioration of the lives of the working families and the middle class,and the deterioration of the heart of Illinois.

We will not stand by silently and watch this happen.

Jennifer Ritter is Executive Director of ONE Northside, a member organizaion of the We Rise Illinois coalition.


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