To: The Illinois State House, The Illinois State Senate, and Governor J.B. Pritzker

Support Fair Tax- House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 19

As a member of the Appropriations-Human Services Committee and the Appropriations General Services Committee, I know firsthand that we have a real revenue problem. I've heard from thousands of constituents and their families about fighting for the best budget approach to meet the needs of the 8th district and the entire state.

This is why I propose House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 19 . This resolution will increase the revenue of our state by utilizing a graduated tax system. This resolution would be used to provide additional relief to low-income citizens, or to encourage personal future growth such as small business investment or seeking higher education.

This shifts the tax burden to those most able to pay, and those with greater influence in society to pay their fair share. This also can protect taxpayers during hard times; for example, when income goes down, the tax rate also goes down.

It is clear that the state must do something to assist those in need so that they can achieve maximum self-sufficiency, independence and health through the provision of seamless, integrated services for individuals, families and communities.

Why is this important?

The Illinois Appropriations-Human Services Committee held a subject matter hearing for public response to Governor Rauner's proposed 2016 Budget. The Committee heard testimony from advocates for Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Development Disabilities and Rehabilitation Services, Health and Family Issues, Special needs populations, HIV, Breast Cancer, Children's Services, and Department of Children and Family Services.

Based on reports by members only, the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (IARF) estimates 51,447 children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities and/or serious mental illnesses will experience limited access to, or lose access to, community-based services and supports under the Department of Human Services’ proposed fiscal year 2016 budget.

“We find these conservative impact estimates on individuals with disabilities and mental illnesses and their families disturbing,” said Janet Stover, IARF President & CEO. “Even with the Department making efforts to preserve core and essential services, every proposed cut will cut bone, and these estimates make that clear,” continued Stover.

The Department’s proposed budget cuts $193 million in funding from community-based services and supports for children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities and mental illnesses in the critical areas of residential services for individuals with high medical/behavioral support needs (ICFDD), psychiatry, housing supports, early intervention, respite, autism, dental and epilepsy services.

Below are examples of certain areas in the state that are being reduced due to our current tax system:

Medicaid:

• $1.5 billion reduction to Health and Family Services budget, including elimination of Specialized Mental Health Rehabilitation facilities.
• 16,533 individuals with serious mental illnesses (SMI) will lose access to psychiatry, care coordination, evidence-based mental health services and housing supports – which will lead to increased hospitalizations and incarcerations;
• 808 adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities will lose residential and developmental services and supports in ICFDD settings – which will lead to increased utilization of state-operated developmental centers (SODCs);

• 1,798 individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families will lose access to respite services – which will lead families to seek out-of-home services, higher cost services and supports;

• 11,208 children ages 0-3 will lose access to early intervention services – which will lead to higher long term costs in special education;

• 21,100 individuals with epilepsy will lose access to case coordination, case management and outreach services;

Human Services:

• Division of alcohol and substance abuse – $27.5 million reduction

• Division of mental health — $82 million reduction

• Elimination of Best Buddies, Project Autism, Arc of Illinois, Homeless youth services, Immigration Integration Services, Illinois Welcoming centers

• $23 million reduction to Early Intervention Program

Public Health:

• $19 million reduction from 2015

Pensions:

$100 billion savings over 30 years in payments

$25 billion immediate reduction in unfunded liability.

$2.2 billion in savings from pension payments in this budget.

According to a January 2015 report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (http://www.itep.org/pdf/whopaysreport.pdf), Illinois has the 5th most unfair state and local tax system in the country. In their analysis, when all state and local taxes are included, such as sales and excise taxes, property taxes and income taxes, lower income Illinoisans pay an overall tax rate almost three times that of the top income earners in Illinois. The lowest 20%, with incomes less than $19,000 per year, pay an overall tax rate of 13.2%, whereas the top 1%, with incomes more than $498,000 per year, pay an overall tax rate of 4.6%.

“We have to be more flexible in how we structure our tax code, and we must consider a fair income tax in which the income tax rate a person pays increases as their income increases,” said Ford. “This legislation would amend our state Constitution so we can design a fair tax code and not be limited to a flat tax rate like we have now which is the same rate whether you make $35,000 a year or $35 million a year. We still have much work to do to improve Illinois’ financial health. It is clear that more revenue is needed, but it must be fair and progressive and not regressive, as the proposed expanded sales tax would be.

Regressive tax policy only hurts working families and those working to enter the labor force.”The legislation also provides that any such tax imposed on corporations shall be at a non-graduated rate, not to exceed the average of the lowest and highest individual rates by more than a ratio of 8 to 5. “This legislation does not change the current flat tax rate for corporations, and also creates predictability for corporations as they look at their tax rates,” said Ford.

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