Governor Raunerâ€™s State of the State address outlined a platform that attacks the middle class and working families. His agenda fails to raise adequate revenue to invest in the critical programs Illinois needs in order to be a leading state in the Midwest.
â€œIllinois is in a revenue crisis,â€ said Brianna Tong, a student leader with the Illinois Indiana Regional Organizing Network, which is a member of Fair Economy Illinois. Governor Rauner said we need a â€œ21st century tax system to reflect a 21st century economy.â€ A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute shows that between 2009 and 2012, the top 1% saw a 34.5% increase in income, while the bottom 99% has seen only a .2% increase in income. In addition, 97% of the total income gains Illinois saw in this period went to the top 1%. â€œWe must upgrade our tax code by ensuring Big Corporations, LaSalle Street and the 1% pay their fair share. Then we can invest in public education, human services, health care and public safety to ensure Illinois is a truly great state.â€
â€œSpending is not the problem in Illinois,â€ said Allen Wesolowski of ONE Northside, a member of Fair Economy Illinois. Illinois ranks the lowest in the nation in state employees per capita. According to the Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children, many human service programs have already sustained 23% cuts since 2009. â€œIf Governor Rauner wants to â€˜empowerâ€™ local communities, he and the legislature must boldly push for revenue from big corporations and the 1%. Our communities are under dire threat due to looming state budget cuts. We must take care of our people first, theyâ€™re our most valuable resource,â€ Wesolowski continued.
â€œGovernor Rauner spent most of his speech attacking unions and public sector employees,â€ said Sonny Garcia, a public sector employee in Bloomington and leader of Illinois Peopleâ€™s Action, a member of Fair Economy Illinois. “Undermining workersâ€™ rights to organize for safe working conditions and a living wage will further hurt Illinoisâ€™ middle class families. If we want Illinois to succeed, we must tax Big Corporations and the wealthy and invest in, instead of undermine the middle class.â€
In November, Illinois voters overwhelmingly supported a referendum calling on Illinois legislators to raise the minimum wage to $10/hour by January 1, 2015. Today, Governor Rauner suggested raising the minimum wage to $10/hour over the next seven years. This guarantees that hardworking families working for the minimum wage will continue to earn poverty wages. Governor Rauner must work with the legislature to raise the minimum wage this session.
Fair Economy Illinois is a statewide alliance that organizes urban, suburban and rural residents around issues that affect the common good. We organize people and money in order to: 1) limit the power of corporations and private interests in our state; 2) ensure adequate revenue for the State of Illinois to fulfill its primary functions so Illinoisans may lead dignified lives with strong public education, high quality infrastructure, fully funded human services and public safety, and; 3) protect our environment and natural resources from corporate exploitation.
The alliance comprises three organizations: Illinois-Indiana Regional Organizing Network (IIRON), Illinois Peoplesâ€™ Action (IPA), and Organizing Neighborhoods for Equality: Northside (ONE Northside).