North Side activists rallied Sunday around legislation they hope will end Illinois’ nearly yearlong budget stalemate and secured commitments from lawmakers at a full-house community convention in Lake View.
ONE Northside is pursuing legislation in Springfield its members say would close $2.5 billion annually in corporate tax loopholes. The bill was filed in January by Rep. Will Davis, D-East Hazel Crest.
“Stand with power,” Davis told the convention. “Talk to your neighbors. Talk to everyone in the state of Illinois.”
A small group of Democratic state lawmakers agreed to co-sponsor the legislation. Senate President John Cullerton vowed to move it through the Senate.
“Springfield must hear our convention’s message that, yes, there is a choice,” said Eugene Lim, a leader of the group’s economic justice team. “It’s a choice between cuts or raising revenue. And a further choice between raising unfair taxes from the 99 percent, or raising them fairly from the 1 percent. The choice is, leave our rigged system alone or fix it to work for all.”
Cullerton also committed to seeking a statewide vote on a fair tax, and to working to pass a fully funded two-year budget that closed the corporate loopholes by May 31. However, budget negotiations between Cullerton, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner are at a standstill.
ONE Northside describes itself as a mixed-income, multi-ethnic, intergenerational organization uniting Rogers Park, Edgewater, Uptown, Ravenswood, North Center, Lake View and Lincoln Park. Its convention at Lake View High School also tackled issues pertaining to education, violence prevention, affordable housing and mental health, economic and environmental justice.
“The system has been rigged by the wealthy elite,” Alka Lyall, a pastor at Broadway United Methodist Church, told the crowd. “They use racist fears and assumptions about who benefits from government services to justify cuts to those programs. … They are starving government of the resources it needs to provide for the common good.”