Monday, February 22, 2016

“Rauner is not only taxing the poor to feed the rich but stifling opportunity in Illinois, now and for generations to come” —Marilyn Katz

“[Governor Rauner’s recent] budget address is simply an affirmation of the path he’s followed for the painful year since his inauguration. In an attempt to fracture the growing opposition to his disregard for peoples’ need and starvation of essential institutions. Rauner said he would work to increase childhood and primary education funding—knowing the price he would extract in return would be unacceptable to the unions, Democratic leaders and others who stand in the way of his attempt to drive down wages, reduce pensions and cut social services that he’s declared too rich for Illinois to afford. Rauner’s budget address was more of what we’ve seen before—a growth agenda for Illinois predicated on impoverishing the pocket books and lives of the state’s working people…

“The past few years have been rough on the people of Illinois. By the end of 2015, Illinois had lost more than 1 million jobs, 795,700 of them during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 alone. At the end of the ‘recovery,’ Illinois has experienced a net loss of 83,900 private sector jobs since the beginning of 2007—losses that continued with another 3,000 jobs lost in 2015.

“But the gross numbers don’t tell the whole story. Not only have jobs been lost; a different, poorer workforce as a whole has emerged. In manufacturing, construction, transportation and information services, 287,400 jobs were lost during the recession years. In the main, they haven’t come back. The only significant growth areas were for jobs in leisure and hospitality, health care and retail—sectors typically associated with low wages. 

“While Illinois still suffers from higher unemployment than the nation as a whole (5.9 percent as opposed to the nation’s 4.9 percent), the change in the kind of jobs even those employed can get has impoverished the vast majority of people in Illinois. Those at the bottom, the lowest 20 percent, have seen a 15 percent decline in income; those in the middle have seen at least a 4 percent decline. And the median income has declined for all but the highest earners in Illinois had declined by more than $5,000 per household…

“As of 2012, the average income of the top 1 percent in Illinois was $1,366,958, while the average for the 99 percent was $46,000 and change. In other words, the small group of those at the top had an average income 29 times that of the rest. Today in Illinois, 50 percent of us earn less than $36,000 a year; 20 percent, less than $15,000.

“Some of this is not new. Illinois has long been one of 15 states where the rich have benefitted most in recent decades, with 64.9 percent of all growth going to the top 1% since 1979. For those with a sense of history, there is a more than a degree of irony here. The 1 percent’s share of wealth in Illinois was virtually the same in 2007 as it was in 1928—22.5 percent in 1928, 22.8 in 2007—before unions and battles for racial and gender equality leveled the playing field for decades. All told, since 1979, Illinois’ top 1 percent increased their incomes by 177 percent; the bottom 99 percent saw a decrease of 1.2 percent…

“Illinois ranks number 5 out of 50 states for having the most regressive taxes with the poorest 20 percent of residents paying 13.6 percent of their income in taxes as opposed to just 4.6 percent for the top 1 percent. Rauner’s policies just make it worse.

Rauner’s war against the working and poor of Illinois began with his refusal to renew the 1.25 percent income tax surcharge that expired at the end of 2014. Rauner, who made $61 million in 2013, personally gained a $750,000 savings as did the rest of the state’s 1 percent, including our state’s 66 billionaires like Sam Zell and Ken Griffin who have joined and funded Rauner’s campaign to lower wages, destroy unions and cut government programs…”

For the complete article, Bruce Rauner’s 1 Percent-Friendly Policies Are Making Things Worse for Illinois, Not Better by Marilyn Katz, click here.


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