Illinois budget crisis a revenue crisis

By Nancy Churchill

What impact do citizens actually have on the legislative process?

At issue is HJRCA 59, a long-term solution to Illinois’ budget woes that would allow Illinois voters to amend their constitution in November to allow the Fair Tax Act to take effect. Its companion bill, HB 689, would provide the tax structure if the amendment were approved. This structure would reverse “trickle-down” by providing a tax cut for 99.3 percent of Illinois taxpayers while raising $1.9 billion in new revenue by taxing higher earners, according to,.

Additional revenue is desperately needed all around. Last July the headline “Budget battle pinches district,” complained that the Ogle County Soil & Water Conservation District has fallen victim to the prolonged budget wars in Springfield.

I pleaded with my State Representative, Tom Demmer, to help pass HJRCA 59. “From 2008 through 2010 I served as Coordinator for the 13th Judicial Circuit Family Violence Prevention Council,” I explained, “a state-funded organization dedicated to educating the public and advocating for victims of domestic violence. This includes infant sexual abuse, teen dating violence, domestic violence, elder abuse, including elder financial abuse. victims comprise a huge, under-recognized demographic in Illinois.

“This morning a colleague serving on the 15th Judicial Circuit Council confirmed, as I suspected, that the Family Violence Prevention Council has been completely defunded statewide.

“Why are these most crucial services,” I asked, “along with schools and universities, the first to get the axe? Why are people not being heard democratically on issues that impact all our lives?

“This perverse process allows the wealthiest among us to get first dibs on all revenue, while the most vulnerable among us are the first to be cut and denied services.”

With that, I urged him to vote yes on the Fair Tax Act.

His reply? “When Session adjourned today, the Constitutional Amendment which sought to put the question of a “fair tax” to voters in November was not voted on and therefore, is “dead” for now.” In other words, the Illinois General Assembly had a chance to take up the issue of the “fair tax” or to kick it down the road. I consider it an act of cowardice that they chose to kick it down the road.

“Today is a sad day for democracy,” said,. “This setback – while temporary – was clearly influenced by a well-financed, out-of-state smear campaign in which nearly $1 million was funneled into Illinois to mislead and distort the Fair Tax to both lawmakers and the public.”

Our job in November is clear: we must replace legislators who refuse to listen to us with progressive politicians dedicated to ending “this unfair, antiquated tax system,” no matter how long it takes. We may not get our constitutional amendment this time around, but we certainly have the power to change who it is that represents us.

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