On the anniversary of the 19th amendment, Illinois women endorse the Fair Tax. Retirees should do the same.

More than 1,100 women are supporting the Fair Tax amendment on the 100th anniversary of the country’s 19th amendment.

We have a chance to create greater income equality in Illinois by passing the Fair Tax amendment to the Illinois constitution on the November ballot.

Current income tax policy in Illinois favors the rich. We have a flat income tax where those earning minimum wage and those who are billionaires pay the same income tax rate. It makes it impossible for the state to pay its bills.

Including the state’s pension obligation.

Which is why I am disappointed with the leadership of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association which has refused to take a position on the Fair Tax.

Although no retiree income is taxed in Illinois, we have spent a working life-time paying state income tax.

Plus retirees pay local property and sales taxes. Local taxes carry the extra burden of paying for public services because the state can’t.

It is a tax burden for the working poor while the one percent gets tax breaks.

I am a member of the IRTA, mainly because they broke ranks with the state’s union leadership when the Democrats passed the bill cutting public employee pension benefits.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that action unconstitutional as a result of the IRTA’s lead in taking legal action.

But the IRTA is wrong about abstaining on the Fair Tax.

Yesterday my IRTA chapter’s governing board voted to support the Fair Tax. Other chapters are also taking action to support the Fair Tax. More should do the same thing.

It will be a tough vote to win as it is. As a constitutional amendment the Fair Tax requires a supermajority of the voters.

The latest corruption charges involving House Speaker Michael Madigan won’t make it any easier. He has handed the opponents of the Fair Tax an issue where some may be concerned with giving the state more money while those like Madigan make secret deals with ComEd. I get it.

But it is a diversion.

It’s one of the reasons he should resign as Speaker and Democratic Party chairman.

Meanwhile the pro-business lobby, like the Illinois Policy Institute, is spending a ton of their corporate patron’s bucks spreading lies.

I’ve heard from retirees that a vote for the Fair Tax will open up the constitution to other changes including to the pension protection clause.

Not True.

I’ve heard from retirees that a vote for the Fair Tax will mean taxing retirement income.

Not true.

Yesterday, on the 100th anniversary of the victory for women’s right to vote, leaders from several statewide organizations emphasized Illinois women led the fight for voting rights.

“Passing this amendment would provide more than $3 billion a year to the state,” said Jennifer Welch, Planned Parenthood Illinois Action CEO. “And this money could be used for healthcare and human services.”

“The process of progress is not a straight line, but it is an ongoing active fight that hopefully we’re all engaged in,” said Women Employed President Cherita Ellens. “And the Fair Tax amendment is part of that fight for progress.”

3 thoughts on “On the anniversary of the 19th amendment, Illinois women endorse the Fair Tax. Retirees should do the same.

  1. I feel a special tax against rich people, especially Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, LGBT, Women and others is discriminatory. They all worked very hard for their money. Willie Wilson and JB Pitzker are two examples. 🤔😐

    Let’s push for Universal Basic Income, akin to what Les Lester is advocating. 😁

  2. Thank you, Fred, and I passed on your blog to my unit’s executive board. They will, I expect also endorse the Fair Tax Amendment. Bob

    >

  3. On its website, the IRTA states “As the voice of Illinois’s retired educators, the Illinois Retired Teachers Association (IRTA) defends pension and healthcare protection via its lobbying efforts advocates for retirees…”

    For years the IRTA legislative and lobbying efforts number one priority was to ensure that the TRS pension appropriation met the State “ramp plan” minimum, even though that amount leads to exponentially increasing funding requirements.

    When the legislature passed SB1 (2013) which required TRS annuitant to choose between their COLA and subsidized health care, IRTA legal action resulted in the Illinois Supreme Court (2015) reaffirming TRS guaranteed pension benefits, further stating that it is the State’s responsibility to provide the revenue to fund its responsibilities.

    In October 2019, I attended my 9th consecutive IRTA biannual convention. I went there wanting to know why the IRTA had in all of its recent publications not endorsed or even mentioned the Fair Tax.

    I made it a point to raise that question with the legislative leader, lobbyist, a TRS annuitant trustee and lastly the incoming president. I heard the following:
    • It does not directly affect our members
    • It would be disingenuous since we are asking others to pay, while our retirement income is exempt
    • They need to go at a slower pace
    • They set the cutoffs high ($250K), but we know how that goes as they need more money
    Open the constitution, what will be changed next, taxing our pension?
    After being told the above, he told me, “IRTA members should make their own informed decision.”

    My attempt to rebut their positions fell upon deaf ears. Incidentally at that same convention, Bob Lyons, past TRS annuitant trustees stated unequivocally his support for the Fair Tax.

    In February 19, 2020, Governor Pritzker gave his budget address. In it Governor Pritzker stated “We must keep our promise to the retirees who earned their pension benefits and forge a realistic path forward to meet those obligations.” He went on further to state “That’s why my budget delivers on our full pension payment and then some, with $100 million from the proceeds of the graduated income tax dedicated to paying down our pension debt more quickly. We should double that number in subsequent years.” That was 6 months ago, with the pandemic, all bets are probably off.

    I personally find it incomprehensible for the IRTA, who in my mind serves as our fiduciary, to not only remain silent, but to take the positions detailed above, especially given the Governor’s budget address. Certainly, when the Fair Tax fails, and IRTA was silent and yet expects the TRS full pension appropriation, who will be sounding disingenuous then?

    Lastly, our TRS pension security is not the only reason for supporting the Fair Tax. The devastation of state agencies by the prior governor’s administration and the need to reasonably fund and/or reorganized them going forward is of major importance.

    Specially funding for our schools (pre-k to universities), IL EPA (10-yr funding cuts: 38%), IL DNR (billion is deferred maintenance), IDPH (responsible for nursing home inspections where 52% of our Covid-related deaths occurred, 40% nationally), IL DCFS (understaffed and needing retraining); the list goes on-and-on. Add to that months of state payment backlogs, and certainly the State requires more revenue to fund its responsibilities.

    With 32 States and the Federal Government utilizing a graduated income tax, the data (CTBA) does not suggest any significant relocation of those financially affected. Failing to pass the Fair Tax Amendment makes it more likely that all of us will see increased: State Income Tax, Real Estate Tax (caused by underfunded schools, reduction in municipal income tax reimbursement etc.), State tax on pension benefits and an assortment of other taxes.

    I agree with much of what Fred has stated, and don’t feel disingenuous asking those who have benefited most from what Illinois has to offer, to kick-in a little more.

    Tom White, TRS Annuitant

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