Working Families Speak Out Against Legislators’ Choice to Maintain a Broken Tax System that Benefits the Rich and Large Corporations Instead of Rebuilding Illinois’ Communities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Scott Vogel, firstname.lastname@example.org
(April 29, 2014, Chicago) – SEIU Healthcare Illinois is extremely disappointed that the Senate and House refused to put the Fair Tax Act up for a vote this session, but remains absolutely committed to continuing the fight for tax fairness.
The Fair Tax Act would have allowed the citizens of Illinois to amend the state Constitution on the November ballot to create a more fair and equitable tax system. The fair tax proposal embodied the common sense value that lower tax rates should apply to low-income and working families and higher tax rates should apply for higher incomes. Right now, the Illinois state Constitution mandates that state income taxes be “flat.” That means that a home care worker making only $15,000 per year pays the same tax rate as a CEO making $1.5 million – a stark example of why Illinois’ broken income tax system needs urgent and sensible reform.
Senator Don Harmon, the sponsor JRCA 40 (Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment) emphasized that
the Fair Tax Act and accompanying tax rate structure would give 94% of Illinois residents a tax cut in order to support working families and small businesses.
In response, Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, issued the following statement:
“Working families in Illinois need and deserve tax fairness, and the state legislature’s failure to put the Fair Tax Act up for a vote this session comes as a disappointment. The fight for tax fairness, however, continues.
“We need an economy and a fair tax system that works for everyone, not just for the wealthy few. That’s why it is absolutely essential that our state lawmakers require that the rich and large corporations pay their fair share of the tax burden so that the state can invest in our communities again and protect vital programs that support working families, children and seniors.
“We are extremely grateful for the hard work and persistence of the chief legislative sponsors, Senator Don Harmon and Representative Christian Mitchell, who carried this issue and our message across the entire state. Both of these lawmakers, as well as their colleagues who committed their support for the fair tax, deserve credit for their leadership in making sure that Illinois gets our priorities straight and puts our state on sound fiscal footing.
“Though delayed, the Fair Tax Act will prove a crucial step forward for working families, including the thousands of HCII members, who worked hard to gather petitions, knock on doors, phone bank and hold actions and rallies to make the fair tax a reality.
“Ultimately, we need a fair economy that gives everyone real opportunity and creates shared prosperity throughout Illinois. Our work and advocacy on behalf of working families continues.”
The ongoing issues around the faulty Child Care Management System launched by Deloitte Consulting LLP and the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Child Care Assistance Program continue to cause hardship for child care providers and working parents across Illinois.
Since the launch of the new system in January, parents have experienced delays in approval of applications for child care services, and providers have experienced delays in the processing of certificates, incorrect payments, and the truly devastating experience of no payments at all.
These extreme delays are still being experienced and some providers are facing eviction, utility shut-off notices, and mounds of late payment and overdraft fees.
Over the last week and a half, providers logged hundreds of phone calls to Deloitte, sharing personal stories of hardship and demanding that the company take steps to fix their system as soon as possible. A small delegation then went to Deloitte in person, delivering a letter on behalf of the 28,000 child care providers statewide serving parents and children in the Child Care Assistance Program.
Sharon Norwood, a child care provider of 23 years from Evergreen Park, joined the delegation to hand deliver a letter to Deloitte’s Central Region Chief. “I was waiting on late payments up until recently, but my fellow providers are still suffering. We provide critical services for working parents so I don’t understand why Deloitte isn’t taking this issue seriously. I will continue to fight back against this broken system until every provider receives the payments they’re waiting on!”
Stay tuned for more news and ways to get involved in the fight for timely child care payments.
On Tuesday, April 8th, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson led home care and hospital workers, several state representatives, health care experts, and members of the faith community in a town hall meeting to call for Medicaid expansion and a fair minimum wage in our state.
Freeman-Wilson opened the meeting in Merrillville by highlighting the Hoosiers whose lives and livelihoods hang in the balance while Republican legislators balk at making the changes that our citizens and our economy needs. Thaddeus Agee, a secretary at Northlake Methodist Hospital, shared his unique perspective on how living in the “coverage gap”—making too little money to buy subsidized insurance on exchanges, but too much to qualify for Medicaid—affects people’s lives.
“Our system puts terrible stress on sick people,” Agee said. “People have to make really tough choices: Am I sick enough to take a trip to the ER? If I wait, will this cough go away on its own, or will it just get worse and worse?”
Agee went on to explain that the coverage gap threatens not just the individuals who fall into it, but the safety-net hospitals that low-income communities rely on.
“With a lack of insurance forcing thousands of Hoosiers to use the emergency room like a primary care physician, hospitals like mine are forced to pick up massive costs that could be avoided if people had the coverage they need to address health issues before they get out of hand. This system is unsustainable, and threatens the existence of hospitals like mine,” he said.
Indiana’s unlivable minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 per hour for more than two years, adds to the financial crises facing thousands of Hoosiers who struggle to pay the bills and take care of their health at the same time. Home care worker Mary Reeves touched on the economic opportunities that Indiana gives up by letting the minimum wage stagnate at such a low rate.
“These people just want to be able to get by, to pay for school and rent and food and health care without getting their lights shut off. These are the folks who are going to put money back into our economy, and that’s what Indiana needs,” she said.
Other speakers at the event included State Representatives Shelli VanDenburgh, Linda Lawson, and Rick Niemeyer, Methodist Hospitals Vice President of Government and External Affairs Denise Dillard, and Professor T. Iverson of the Indiana University Northwest School of Social Work.
Learn more about the work our Indiana members are doing to expand Medicaid and raise the minimum wage here.
SEIU Healthcare Missouri members traveled from both St. Louis and Kansas City for our annual Lobby Day on April 2. Nursing home workers, hospital employees, and home care providers met with lawmakers to discuss the importance of expanding Medicaid, protecting the right to vote for all Missourians, and the need for a state increase to the minimum wage.
Charice Walker, a Medical Assisstant at Encompass Medical Group in Kansas City, said this was her second Lobby Day. “I had really good conversations with both republicans and democrats. I shared a story about my family member who is barely scraping by earning just over the minimum wage to drive home the need for an increase, and I really felt like the lawmakers listened and wanted to hear about the impact on Missourians.”
After hitting the halls of the Capitol, members said goodbyes to new friends they made from across the State and parted ways to bring enthusiasm around these issues back to their workplaces and communities.
See more photos from Lobby Day below: