Joining Hands

Last week you received a letter from the leadership of the Community Renewal Society and Protestants for the Common Good about important steps our organizations are pursuing together. Let me provide an update.

I don’t usually use this letter to praise PCG staff, (that has always struck me as organizationally self-indulgent). But today I want to make an exception by saying how grateful we are to Meghan Strell, Betsy Neely, and Courtney Eccles, who more than any of the rest of us, packed and labeled cartons, accompanied the movers, and made very complicated logistics—communications and otherwise—look much easier than we know they really were. We are now fully relocated as tenants in the CRS space at 332 S. Michigan Avenue.

We told you in our letter that “our organizations aren’t missing a beat in carrying our programmatic agendas.” What is striking is not only how much we are both doing, but how much we are doing together. Since December we have already been pooling our efforts on HB 5723, which helps ex-offenders gain a second chance by expanding the opportunity for the expungement or sealing of records after a reasonable period of time.

Last spring, the Board of Protestants for the Common Good approved a concept of a graduated income tax for Illinois. Of course this will not happen this year, or next; but it will happen. Of 43 states that have an income tax, we are one of only seven with a flat tax. We will not solve our structural deficit problems without this change.

Perhaps the deepest satisfaction in heading an organization like PCG is having the freedom to do what we believe to be the right thing even if it seems either absurd or impossible, and then watch as it takes hold. In this case, PCG and CRS expect to come together, joined by other faith-based organizations across the state, in creating a “faith table” to pass the graduated income tax in Illinois.

Together, PCG and CRS are circulating a TANF (welfare) petition to keep the lifetime eligibility limit for this program at five years rather than reducing to three. This the basic cash assistance safety net for those of very low income who cannot find work. It is cruel and short-sighted to drive these women and children into the ground in the name of trying to solve our fiscal crisis. I’m hopeful that together we will be able to push this proposal of Governor Quinn back.

Finally, we are delighted to help publicize and support the CRS Faith in Action Day in Springfield next Tuesday, April 24th. In addition to HB 5723 and tax fairness, the CRS agenda includes pressing for the full use of existing funds in the Rental Housing Support Program, which helps struggling families—especially seniors, the disabled, and veterans—to avoid homelessness. And we have invited CRS advocates to join us on May 17th for our Minimum Wage Lobby Day .

Every one of these issues deserves all the support each of our organizations can provide. Together we will be stronger in fighting for them than we are separately. It feels good to join hands.


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