CCH joins launch of ‘A Better Illinois’

(From left) Volunteer Laura Ransin, Chicago Teacher’s Union's (CTU's) Gervaise Clay, Midwest Academy intern Kelly Chen; CCH's Jennifer Cushman, Charles Austin, Jade Vinson & Jim Picchetti; and a CTU member.
(From left) Volunteer Laura Ransin, Chicago Teacher’s Union’s Gervaise Clay, Midwest Academy intern Kelly Chen; CCH’s Jennifer Cushman, Charles Austin, Jade Vinson & Jim Picchetti; and an unidentified CTU member.

CCH staff, interns and leaders joined the launch of “A Better Illinois” –  statewide campaign with the goal of changing the Illinois income tax code from the current 5% flat-tax rate to a fair, graduated tax.

During Saturday’s launch, two CCH teams working in pairs collected 141 signatures in support. CCH and allies from Action Now, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) canvassed the South Side neighborhood around Holy Ghost Tabernacle, 8459 S. Racine Ave.

A Better Illinois dispatched canvass teams statewide last weekend, collecting signatures and building support. The campaign plans to collect 250,000 signatures by the end of October. 

Under the state’s flat tax rate of 5%, people pay the same percentage of their income regardless of income level. The goal of A Better Illinois is for people who make more money to pay a higher income tax rate, while those earning less would pay a lower rate.

CCH heard positive reactions during their canvass. Some people said that taxes seem too high in general, and many mentioned community issues such as street violence and unemployment. All agreed that Illinois’ current income tax code is unfair and needs to be changed so that wealthier individuals and corporations that can afford a small increase pay their fair share. Canvassers targeted their efforts by knocking on doors of registered voters, but they also spoke with people who were outside enjoying the summer weather.

The effort to change the Illinois tax code will consist of several steps: First, pass state legislation next spring that would put a referendum on the state ballot that. If passed by referendum voters in November 2014, it would change the Illinois constitution to allow for a fair, graduated tax rate. Currently, the Illinois constitution only allows for a flat tax rate. Finally, in spring 2015, supporters would seek to pass a fair income tax bill through the state legislature.

CCH and our many campaign partners will work on this campaign through grassroots organizing and advocacy with elected officials. Our organization supports A Better Illinois’ goals of a fair tax system, a strong middle class, and a responsible state budget that prioritizes public education, public safety, health care and human services.

To sign the online petition and learn more about A Better Illinois, click here.

– Jennifer Cushman, MSW, Policy Specialist