AARP Illinois Tax Solutions Forum

A conversation on the proposed graduated income tax for Illinois, presented by AARP Illinois and the Chicago Sun-Times.

AARP Illinois Tax Solutions Forum

Are you ready to vote on one of the biggest issues in Illinois history?

Almost exactly a year from now, Illinoisans will vote on whether to approve a graduated income tax. Join us at the Illinois Tax Solutions Forum to explore both sides of the issue.

At this free community event, moderated by Sun-Times political reporter Tina Sfondeles, we heard from expert panelists on both sides of the issue, including Tony Arnold, who covers Illinois state politics for WBEZ, AARP State Director Bob Gallo, Coalition for Jobs, Growth & Prosperity leader and former President of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association Greg Baise, Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, and Adam Schuster, Director of Budget and Tax Research at the Illinois Policy Institute.

Tuesday, November 5
6:00PM - 8:00PM

Nineteenth Century Club
178 Forest Ave. 
Oak Park, IL 60301

Read some of the Sun-Times coverage of this event:

The pros and cons of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature issue — a proposed graduated income tax — were discussed and dissected at length during a panel discussion in the west suburbs on Tuesday November 15.


Tony Arnold | WBEZ

Tony Arnold, WBEZ

Tony Arnold covers Illinois state politics for WBEZ. His investigations have ranged from the multiple Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at the Quincy veterans’ home that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen residents, to documenting an increase in the deaths of children who had contact with Illinois’ child welfare system. He’s also covered the unprecedented two-year state budget impasse, Chicago mayoral elections, national political conventions, and he’s edited the daily news desk. He’s won numerous Illinois AP and Peter Lisagor awards for his reporting. 

Tony has a B.A. in American Studies from Miami University. He’s previously worked at WNIJ in DeKalb, IL and WMUB in Oxford, OH. His first job in journalism was as a stringer, recording stats for local high school sports.

Greg Baise | Coalition for Jobs, Growth & Prosperity

Greg Baise

Greg Baise is a business leader known for promoting pro-jobs initiatives that call for lower taxes and public policies that encourage employer growth. Baise is currently leading the Illinois employer-community’s fight against the 2020 graduated tax ballot initiative that would result in this state’s businesses having one of the highest tax rates in the nation. Through his leadership role in the Coalition for Jobs, Growth & Prosperity (Jobs Coalition) and its ancillary organization Ideas Illinois, Baise is focusing on educating the public about the negative effect raising taxes will have on the state’s economy. He also serves as President and CEO of XPS, Inc. 

From 1991 through 2018, Baise served as president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA), a statewide advocacy organization representing more than 4,000-member manufacturing companies and supportive industries. In that role, he was responsible for management of the Association including coordinating statewide lobbying activities.

Robert A. Gallo | AARP State Director

Robert Gallo, AARP State Director

Based in Chicago, Bob Gallo is the State Director for AARP in Illinois and is responsible for the direction, planning, and implementation of AARP’s national, state and local agenda in Illinois as it relates to the well-being of individuals ages 50+. He is responsible for directing the efforts of AARP Illinois’ professional staff and volunteers for community, state and national government affairs, communications and operations. Previously he served as a Manager of State Operations for AARP in Florida and was also an interim State Director for AARP Maryland and AARP Louisiana, the latter following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Throughout his career he has held positions as Vice President of Marketing & Communications for the Florida Division of the American Cancer Society, Director of Advertising for Florida’s Department of the Lottery and Marketing Representative for a division of Levi Strauss & Co.

As a volunteer he currently serves as a member of the Advisory Board for WUIS Springfield Illinois Issues, is on the Board of Directors for Change Illinois and is a member of the Union League Club of Chicago. Previously he was recognized by the American Red Cross for emergency relief efforts following Hurricane Andrew, assisted in rebuilding homes damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, mentored “at-risk” middle school students and served on various non-profit boards supporting individuals with physical and emotional disabilities. He is a graduate of Long Island University/C.W. Post College with a BS in Business Administration. Bob is married to Janis Karam Gallo who is an independent fine arts consultant, appraiser and curator.

Ralph Martire | CTBA

Ralph Martire, CTBA

Ralph Martire is the executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (“CTBA”), a bipartisan 501(c)(3) think tank committed to ensuring that state, federal and local workforce, education, fiscal, economic and budget policies are fair and just, and promote opportunity for all. Under his leadership, CTBA has achieved numerous legislative successes, including passage of the Evidence Based Model of Education Funding, a state Earned Income Tax Credit, the 2011 Temporary Tax Increases and corporate accountability legislation. 

Martire, whose group supports the graduated income tax, was appointed to serve on the Professional Review Panel responsible for monitoring the implementation of Illinois’ new evidence-based school funding formula, Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker’s Transition Team, and the Congressionally-established Equity and Excellence in Education Commission. He also serves as the Arthur Rubloff Endowed Professor of Public Policy at Roosevelt University and as board president of the School Board of River Forest District 90. Martire is an awarded leader and frequent speaker and contributor on education policy reform and tax policy. 

He graduated from Indiana University and received his JD from the University of Michigan. He is married to Mary Kay Martire and has two children, Nicholas and Valerie.

Tina Sfondeles | Chicago Sun-Times | Moderator

Tina Sfondeles, Chicago Sun-Times

Tina Sfondeles is the political reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, focusing on the Illinois General Assembly, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration and statewide elections.

Sfondeles covered Gov. Bruce Rauner’s four-year term, which included a staff purge that led to plenty of leaks from disgruntled former employees, as well as a roller coaster of a primary and general election.

Sfondeles has worked at the Sun-Times since 2007, having previously covered transportation, general assignment stories and breaking news. 

Adam Schuster | Illinois Policy Institute

Adam Schuster

Adam Schuster is the director of budget and tax research at the Illinois Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization based in Chicago and Springfield. In this role he focuses on state and local budget and tax issues.

Adam has a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University. Prior to joining the Institute, he worked in the Illinois Department of Labor to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens and on an initiative to tie state spending to measurable outcomes.

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