State lawmakers should say ‘tax increases,’ not ‘new revenues’

by Admin
State lawmakers should say 'tax increases,' not 'new revenues'

As an Illinois taxpayer, it makes my eyes bleed every time I read about our politicians talking about “new revenues.” This is a one-way street for taxpayers who are always on the withdrawal end of these new revenues. There should be a law that prohibits Illinois politicians from saying “new revenues.” They should be required by law to say “tax increases.”

While both terms are correct, if Illinois politicians had to say “tax increases,” maybe the voting public would pay more attention.

In a perfect world, when a politician in Illinois or anywhere were to use the term “new revenues,” their tongues would swell. If they kept repeating it, they wouldn’t be able to speak for a 24-hour period.

— Charlie Schwerman, Effingham, Illinois

Editorial on new budget unfair

The editorial “A balanced state budget. But hardly Springfield Democrats’ finest hour.” (June 2) is blatantly unfair. The Tribune Editorial Board accuses Democrats of playing a game of “cat-and-dog revenue raisers, aimed at keeping income taxes level for individuals.” Was it not Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Democrats who pushed for a “fair tax” four years ago? This would have done away with flat taxes for individuals and instituted a graduated income tax that the majority of states with an income tax have. And our federal government has had such a tax since 1913, hardly a progressive idea now.

And calling Democrats big spenders implies that the editorial board would like to cut some parts of the new budget. Just what programs does it think should get the knife? Preschool? K-12 funding? Health care for migrants? Redeploy Illinois? Cutting those programs would lead to students falling behind their wealthier peers in high-property tax districts, illnesses spreading and a lack of jobs for the thousands who leave prison in Illinois, which would lead to more recidivism. All of these programs will cut costs in the long run.

Or would the board cut the cancellation of medical debt, eliminate Monetary Award Program grants for college students and cut aid to agencies such as Planned Parenthood whose patient numbers have skyrocketed since the overturning of Roe v. Wade?

I am proud to live in a state that cares about people. “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization,” said Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., a former Supreme Court justice. Who cares if sports betters pay more on their recreational gambling habits or if multimillion-dollar corporations cannot write off some of their losses?

I thank Pritzker for his budget and those in the General Assembly who made it a reality.

— Jan Goldberg, Riverside

State budget makes me wonder

Regarding Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s budget, why oh why do I live in Illinois?

— Barbara Cox, Sycamore, Illinois

CPS’ new budgeting approach

Chicago Public Schools’ recent actions related to school budgets and school choice suggest that the district thinks the way to bring some schools up is by pulling others down.

Over the years, CPS has created an impressive school choice program, surpassing other large districts such those in New York and Los Angeles. CPS’ diverse school types include career and technical, charter, selective-enrollment and service leadership. These options are popular with Chicago parents. Currently, 44% of elementary students and 75% of high school students attend schools outside their designated zones, according to the Tribune.

This diversity of school options is under threat. That became clear in a resolution from the Chicago Board of Education, in which the board stated that it wanted to “transition away from privatization and admissions/enrollment policies and approaches that further stratification and inequity in CPS and drive student enrollment away from neighborhood schools.” The recent release of individual school budgets and the results of Mayor Brandon Johnson’s trip to Springfield make these threats real.

CPS’ new budgeting approach allocates funds based on a baseline of minimal staff regardless of student enrollment, leading to schools losing crucial resources. For example, LaSalle Language Academy, a magnet school, is reportedly losing seven of eight dual-language teachers — an 88% reduction that severely impacts its core mission. Charter schools like Urban Prep regularly face threats from CPS of “nonrenewal,” or closure.

Illinois state Senate President Don Harmon should not simply trust Johnson’s assurances that schools will not be closed or underfunded. Johnson’s promises lack transparency and contradict actions already taken, making legislative oversight essential to protect all CPS students’ interests.

The Illinois House wisely passed House Bill 303 to prevent disproportionate budget cuts and extend the moratorium on school closures until 2027 to ensure that an elected board could make important decisions. Harmon should have called the bill for a vote in the Senate so Gov. J.B. Pritzker could then sign it into law.

CPS’ current trajectory risks further enrollment decline as parents lose agency in choosing public schools for their children and lose faith in CPS’ ability to provide quality education. Chicago’s educational future depends on maintaining diverse and high-quality school options. To ensure CPS offers the best opportunities for all students, parents should be able to continue to choose from a variety of public school programs, and any critical changes should await a fully elected school board.

Improving struggling schools shouldn’t involve undermining successful ones.

— Tim King, Chicago

Slimy tactics used for bill

I want to compliment Tribune reporters Jason Meisner and Dan Petrella for their recent articles calling out the Illinois General Assembly’s actions on the small cell transmission deployment bill. That bill allows telecommunications companies to install cell towers in public rights of way without the consent of the homeowner. This stomping on the rights of homeowners is done under the guise of streamlining telecommunications.

According to the articles, federal prosecutors have said that the original small cell deployment law resulted from an alleged scheme by AT&T to bribe then-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, and the extension of that law this year happened in the middle of the night after it was appended to a bill originally titled “Campground Hot Tubs.” Similar tactics were used to extend this bad law in 2021 when it was hidden in the “Boxing and Martial Arts-Sunset” bill (House Bill 3743).

Why are these bills adopted at the last minute and hidden in an unrelated bill? If a law actually represents the will of the people, such slimy tactics should not be necessary.

If this is not illegal, then it certainly should be.

— Heidi Hanson, Western Springs

Small businesses need support

Chicago’s economic future requires deep investment in programs that create a skilled workforce. The Investing in America agenda is taking positive steps to bring this to fruition.

I’ve seen these policies at work firsthand. In addition to being a small business owner, I run the nonprofit Contractor Advisors Business Development, which has a very robust program, Building Better Futures, that provides victims and survivors of crime with education remediation, life skills and job training. With grants coming from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, our program helps small businesses find quality employees and reduce worker shortages.

With crime rising in our great city, our government must invest in strategies that empower individuals and uplift the community. The grants we received have allowed us to help fill the labor shortage by providing training that will put people back to work contributing to the economic growth and stability of our city. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals in our city who are eager to work but lack the skills to find a well-paying job. The training offered by our program opens the doors of opportunity for many individuals who felt hopeless.

My recent visit to Washington for a White House briefing with Midwest business leaders reinforced my belief in the importance of advocating for policies that prioritize small businesses and community development. Capital and technical assistance remain important to startups and established businesses alike. While the nation’s small businesses make up 99% of all businesses, a large majority of these businesses are one- or two-person operations. The visit outlined a number of programs and initiatives that improve the output of small businesses and increase their profitability.

There’s still work to be done to ensure that every individual has the opportunity to succeed. I look forward to seeing more policies that support small businesses like mine and continue to make a positive impact on our communities.

— Suzanne Stantley, president, Contractors Advisors Business Development Corp., Chicago

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