Grassroots group gives recommendations to shore up state’s revenues

SPRINGFIELD — As the day of reckoning for the state budget draws near, progressive groups are offering revenue ideas.

The difference between spending and revenue proposals at the Capitol is $3 billion or $4 billion, depending on whom you ask. A group called the Grassroots Collaborative is calling for revenue increases — a progressive income tax, ending corporate loopholes, a financial transactions tax — and, says executive director Amisha Patel, a “bad business fee” on companies whose workers are paid so little, they depend on public benefits.

Patel said at a news conference today in Chicago that people deserve to be able to have a high-quality job and take care of their families on their job alone, and corporations who have the profits to be able to do that, but who currently are not, there’s a possible solution of making sure that they do pay their fair share.

Labor and social service organizations say the state depends on taxing the poor, and that’s not where the money is. They noted that two-thirds of Illinois corporations do not pay income tax, and that 65 percent of voters supported a “millionaire tax.”

State Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) says the income tax cut that took effect this year saved families in the bottom half of income earners an average of $170, while the top 1 percent averaged savings of $17,000. The level of income that places someone in the top 1 percent of Illinois earners is about $600,000.

The current state budget expires at midnight Tuesday.