May 1, 2014 — the deadline for legislators to approve the Fair Tax — is one week away. Now more than ever, we need you to take action.
Given the urgency of the issue, it is also a good time to articulate why the fair tax is one of the most important campaigns in which we’ve been involved.
We believe in fairness. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul talks about the importance of a fair balance. He says, “I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, ‘the one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.’” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15 NRSV) Paul talks about the responsibility we all have to do what we can to reduce inequality and to ensure that everyone has enough. He calls the church to collective action.
We believe in justice. We live in a time of dramatic growth in income inequality in our state, a phenomenon that has stretched across the past three decades. We also live in time of unjust tax policies which have shifted to benefiting the wealthy more than providing some degree of income re-distribution. Illinois’ flat tax with its disproportionate taxation is a current example of that change. The fair tax — with its lower rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes — will help us reduce income inequality and restore some balance to our economy.
Fiscal cliff, flat tax, or fair tax — the Illinois General Assembly presently has three legislative options:
1. Allow the current flat tax rate to go from 5% to 3.75%, cutting $4 billion in FY 16 along with 20% in across-the-board cuts in FY 15 with devastating results that, among others, lay off 13,400 classroom teachers, deny 95,000 children early childhood education, reduce the state police by 30%. Everyone in Illinois will feel the impact.
2. Vote to extend — or make permanent — the regressive 5% flat tax (approved in 2010) that puts the greatest burden on the individuals and families with the lowest incomes since the effective flat rate taxes lower- and middle-income families disproportionately. And, no one in Illinois gets a tax cut.
3. Approve the Constitutional Amendment resolutions (SJRCA 40 and HJRCA 49) by May 1, an action which will put the fair tax proposal on the November 2014 ballot. Then the voters will decide.
This is not a hard decision. With 94 percent of taxpayers in Illinois getting a tax cut, devastating funding cuts for education and other state services being avoided, and injustice in our tax system being eliminated, the approval of the fair tax is — by far — the best choice.
Across the state, everyone from a minimum wage worker to an individual making $205,000 will get a tax cut, some smaller than others, but a tax cut nonetheless. The fair tax will also help Illinois avoid the fiscal cliff, create a more responsible budget, and put the state’s economy on a positive trajectory for the future.
The deadline for the General Assembly to act on the fair tax is May 1, 2014 — only seven days away. We must work hard to maintain the campaign’s hard-won momentum.
Call your senator and representative or send them emails. Use social media to ask friends to do the same. Register for the CRS bus and join us in Springfield on April 29 for a day of witness, power, and advocacy. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper in support of the fair tax. Urge your mid- and down-state friends and relatives to talk with their legislators. And, if you have already done these things, please do them again.
Victory is close at hand. We can do this!