Samantha Nichols, 24, believes the people of Illinois deserve better from their government and can actually get it.
Nichols, a seminary student at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, is planning to join a march from Chicago to Springfield next month in an effort to unite the state and convince cynics they can hold their elected officials accountable.
“I feel, as a person of faith, all of God’s children should have access to the resources they deserve,” Nichols told me.
Those “resources” would include a quality K-12 education, free college tuition and free health care for everyone.
Nichols is a member of The People’s Lobby, which is part of the Fair Economy Illinois coalition, which hopes to end the budget impasse and solve the state’s financial crisis.
Fair Economy Illinois, a very progressive political action group, has a very detailed plan to obtain its objectives.
The coalition consists of Illinois People’s Action, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, ONENorthside and The People’s Lobby. They also are attempting to enlist the support of faith-based groups throughout Illinois.
Kristi Sanford, a spokesperson for Fair Economy Illinois, said her group rejects the proposed “grand bargain” hammered out by Senate leaders in Springfield and heralded by numerous news media outlets as a reasonable compromise.
“It would cut government services that help the poor and working people, while raising taxes on those who can least afford to pay them,” Sanford said. “They want us all to pay more money for less government, a process that has been going on in this state long before Gov. Rauner took office.”
It should be noted that the grand bargain appears to have collapsed due to the continuing political fight between Republicans and Democrats in Springfield.
Fair Economy Illinois is proposing a more radical alternative, which it claims could raise $23 billion a year in revenue by closing corporate tax loopholes ($2.5 billion), enacting a graduated income tax ($9 billion) and passing a “LaSalle Street Tax” ($12 billion).
According to the organization’s Web site, “the LaSalle Street Tax would require the buyer and seller of certain financial contracts to pay a $2 tax on the transaction. It applies mostly to options contracts (agreements to buy or sell in the future at a set price) and to swaps of cash flow or the risk of credit default (see “The Big Short movie or book for one explanation). The tax on futures contracts based on agricultural products would be $1.”
The group plans to begin its march May 15 in Chicago and arrive in Springfield May 30, with several “listening stops” along the way. It would arrive in the capitol just in time for the scheduled end of the legislative session.
“We’re going to make stops along the way to hear the concerns of people throughout the state and tell them about our plan,” Sanford said. “We want to bring an end to the notion that there are differences between rural and urban areas that make it impossible to solve the problems of Illinois.”
It seems the group is going to be telling people that instead of accepting that Illinois is broke and can no longer afford to provide services and programs for the people of this state, the people should respond by demanding more programs and better government.
I’m not sure people are willing to believe they can get more from their government by taxing the wealthy and corporations. Working folks seem to believe that their jobs and the economy depend on keeping both of those groups happy, which means making sure they make more money.
“Health care and education ought to be human rights,” Nichols said. “People have a right to expect more from their government.”
In Illinois, we’ve come to expect the worst and usually get it.
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