Unions of Illinois Unite–Our Families Are Counting on You

by Ellen McClennan, posted on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Okay Union leaders, Union members, Everybody and Anybody else who cares about Illinois families, get out of your comfort zone and get to work. The time for sitting on the sidelines is over.

We need to endorse another candidate to run for Governor. Quinn/Vallas would be a disaster. A Republican would be a disaster. We can no longer fear what traditional Democrats will think–or what traditional Republicans will think–if we ‘rebel’ against our ‘traditional’ party lines. They have both abandoned us in support of a corporate-driven tax loophole culture which is cannibalizing our schools and our state. We need to think of our children and their future in Illinois. Our kids are counting on us.

All of us who care about the education of our children, our tax burden, and the maintenance and structure of our beautiful state’s infrastructure need to open our eyes. We have a real crisis brewing and we cannot live in denial any longer.

Cinda Klickna–President of the Illinois Education Association–get on your big girl pants. Put on your big girl boxing gloves and get into the game! Dan Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, pick up the phone and call Cinda. Don’t sit this one out. Henry Bayer (a former teacher by the way) and Roberta Lynch, both of AFSCME Illinois–get to work. What are you waiting for? And AFL-CIO Illinois–get going! SEIU. The We Are One coalition. Please! If unions and activists get behind this we can get something done fast.

Quinn/Vallas is bad for our tax structure, bad our educational system, bad for our teachers, bad for our unions, bad for our crumbling infrastructure, bad for our entire state. At this point in time, there is minimal difference between a Republican Governor or a Democratic Governor. With one minor possibility–and a rather disconcerting one at that. A Democratic Governor such as Quinn may actually have an EASIER time than a Republican would in getting corporate backed agendas passed. Scary thought huh? We know they both would do it–to the detriment of Illinois citizens. But Quinn may have an easier time getting more corporate tax loopholes, more private schools, fewer union jobs.

While we are the fifth richest state in America, our politicians fund our schools at the bottom. THE BOTTOM. In contrast to how other states do it, local districts in Illinois must fund the majority of education expenses–leaving rich districts to have well-funded schools with very high real-estate taxes and poorer districts to have poorly funded schools while suffering with real estate taxes they can barely afford. Illinois children get put at risk. It’s a shame for such a wealthy state. For those living in wealthy areas, it is hardly noticed. But it’s a shame for all Illinoisans. Really.

We have watched our politicians blame teachers for the pension crisis they themselves in the General Assembly spent decades creating. Over those decades we watched politicians take billions of dollars intended to fund pensions and place them elsewhere. Many of those millions went into their own pet projects. We have seen Quinn declare his willingness to place the financial burden our politicians created back onto our local school districts. Furthering our tax burden. We have lived in fear of a rising real-estate tax burden being placed onto our local school districts because our local politicians and Governor Quinn continue to gift corporations with over-generous tax breaks. All the while they are blaming teachers and schools for the lack of money.

The welfare our politicians are gifting to Illinois corporations is stunning. The lack of funds from corporations dramatically increases the tax burden on all Illinois families, all Illinois schools, and Illinois infrastructure. We all suffer from the welfare our politicians have gifted corporations.

For example, did you know that in 2011 taxes on corporations contributed only 5.5% to the General Revenue Fund in Illinois? And that individual taxpayers made up 55% of the fund? (2011 Comptroller’s Report, by Judy Baar Topinka) That’s staggering. And that is a problem for Illinois education, teachers, and infrastructure. It is a problem for all of us. Loopholes given by politicians to corporations are a big part of the problem.

Here are a few examples of some huge Illinois corporate tax breaks: $309 million for Traded In-Property Sales Tax Exemption; $234 million for Biofuels Subsidies; Chicago Mercantile Exchange-Chicago Board of Options Exchange Special Tax Break of $85 million. Millions more are documented at this website. Check it out yourself if you wish: www.ift-aft.org/factsheet/RBC2.pdf

And did you know that politicians in Illinois have granted special deals with Sears Motorola, Navistar and others to keep all or some of their employee tax withholdings which would otherwise go to the state? The employee sees noted on their pay stub ‘employee tax withdrawal’ which goes right back into the pockets of the employee’s company– rather than to the taxpayers of Illinois. Millions of dollars given.

“It’s kind of like an earned income tax credit for corporations, except these companies aren’t near poverty.” (”Here’s the bigger risk for companies demanding tax breaks,” by Joe Cahill, Crain’s Chicago Business, November 8, 2013 ) Pleas for Illinois tax breaks by ADM, Office Depot could trigger corporate tax reform.

“Flawed tax policy is the primary driver of Illinois’ recurring general fund deficits,” stated The Center for Budget and Tax Accountability in one of it’s reports. For further information, see: The Case for Fundamental Tax Reform in Illinois: Why We Need a Graduated State Income Tax, May 23, 2012.

And in case you are wondering about the relationship between funding of public schools and the success of education and teaching, see also: “’For Each and Every Child’ — And Why Funding Reform is Crucial to Enhancing Student Achievement.” Ralph Martire of the CTBA makes the case for proper funding of schools for “each and every child.”

Yeah, like I said, corporate welfare. It’s breaking our schools, our families, our infrastructure, our state.

And what’s going on in the Chicago School System is a dire warning to the rest of us as to where politicians, both Democratic and Republican, are taking our state. And let me tell you–it isn’t a pretty sight. Open your eyes folks.

We have watched Chicago politicians and the unelected corporate leaders on the Chicago School Board cut up, privatize, redistribute and deliver Chicago Public School students over to corporate “education” interests. They deny they are creating an unequal and segregated school system. But that’s what they are doing. Segregation and inequality of education is here. We would like to think it is not–especially those of us in the suburbs. But it is. The equal education of all our children should be an issue of concern for all of us in Illinois. That means city, suburban, rural. All our children are important.

Quinn has not been a friend to public education, teachers, public workers, really anyone except corporate leaders. When he was elected in the last election, he was endorsed by those he has since betrayed. He is behind the attempt to diminish all Illinois retirement systems, he denies the pension issue is really a revenue issue, he continues to stand for providing tax loopholes to corporations, and has been silent about the privatization of public education. Which, for those of you who do not know what that means–the privatization of education takes public school students and our tax money (that means both state and local real estate tax money) and creates a ‘school’ which in some cases can actually be traded on the Wall Street Stock Exchange. The way laws are currently structured in Illinois, the creation of Charter schools takes local control and local taxes AWAY from the public school system.

Quinn’s selection of Vallas should ring a five alarm bell into the hearts of all people in Illinois who care about the education of our children. Vallas has been at the forefront of the school privatization movement in several large school districts across the nation. When Quinn selected him to be his running mate, Vallas had just been ‘chased’ out of the Bridgeport, Connecticut school systems because a superior court judge ruled Vallas lacked the credentials to serve as a school superintendent. If you wish more information about Vallas, I suggest you see two articles written by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post”Why the Judge ordered Paul Vallas removed as Bridgeport Schools Chief,” on June 29, 2013 and “The Problem with the Paul Vallas brand of school reform,” on August 4, 2013. They are quite concerning. Vallas displays a sense of entitlement we do not need in our politicians nor in our public school leaders. For more information, please see also: “Quinn Picks Republican Running Mate,” by John Laesch, here at the Progressive Fox.

I suggest we should consider Ralph Martire for Governor. Several education specialists speak very highly of him. He just needs backing. Back him. Come on Klickna, Montgomary, Bayer and Lynch. Call each other. Only you guys can get this done.

While I do not personally know Martire, I have heard him speak publicly on behalf of public education, school kids, financial accountability, and Illinois finances. He has great credentials. Mr. Martire is the Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. From the CTBA website:

Ralph Martire: is executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. Mr. Martire teaches a Master’s level class on education finance and fiscal policy for the University of Illinois and Roosevelt University. In February, 2011, he was appointed to serve on the U.S. Department of Education Equity and Excellence Commission. He is a distinguished lecturer on public policy for Roosevelt University and has taught fiscal policy seminars for various universities and the International Fulbright Scholar Program. Ralph has received numerous awards for his work on education policy reform, including the 2007 Champion of Freedom Award, presented by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition to individuals whose professional work embodies Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, commitment to equal educational opportunities.

Mr. Martire graduated from Indiana University Phi Beta Kappa, with a B.A. in history and received his JD from the University of Michigan.

He is married to Mary Kay Martire, and has two children, a son Nicholas, and a daughter Valerie. He coaches Little League baseball, boys basketball and girls soccer.

It’s time. We must get to work!


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