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Activists plan 15-day march to Springfield for state budget

Cindy Bush and other members of Fair Economy Illinois on Wednesday announced details of a march to Springfield to demand an end to the Illinois budget stalemate. | Andrea Salcedo/For the Sun-Times

A group of activists is planning a 15-day, 200-mile march to Springfield to demand an end to the ongoing state budget crisis.

Fair Economy Illinois — which includes immigrants, veterans, representatives from minority communities, students and religious organizations — backs what it calls the “People and Planet First Budget,” which includes an estimated $23.5 billion the group believes could be raised by closing corporate tax loopholes, passing a financial transaction tax on LaSalle Street trades and requiring wealthier Illinois residents to pay a higher percentage in state income tax.

“We are sick and tired of the politicians in Springfield blaming each other,” said Cindy Bush, one of the marchers. “We’re sick and tired of hearing about grand bargains that are about the working people in Illinois paying more and receiving less. We’re sick and tired of Springfield refusing to have corporations and millionaires [refusing to] pay their fare share.”

The march will start at noon on May 15 with a kick-off rally at the Thompson Center. It will begin with 20 to 25 people, organizers said, and that group hopes to be joined by hundreds more along the way. They will rely on the hospitality of neighbors to rest and eat as they make their way to Springfield. Many faith communities have offered places for for them to spend the night.

Marchers also are seeking universal health care, free tuition at public universities, a move to green energy, increased spending on infrastructure and honoring the state’s pension commitments to public workers.

On the way to the state capital, marchers plan to hold five events — in Chicago, Joliet, Dwight, Bloomington and Springfield — where they can meet with and talk to residents; they say they are looking for stories about how people have been affected by the state budget impasse.

“We’re marching to Springfield to unite the people of Illinois — urban, suburban, rural, white, black, Latinx, documented and undocumented — around a hopeful vision for the state,” said Egle Malinauskaite, activist and marcher.

Details about the march, including the route, are posted online.