A Message to J.B. Pritzker: We Are Going to Hold You to Your Progressive Promises

You ran for Illinois governor on a platform of raising taxes on the rich, investing in social programs and achieving racial equity. We expect to see these promises become a reality.

Amisha Patel November 7, 2018

Hey, J.B.: Now's the time to deliver on a progressive agenda. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

After one term of Bruce Rauner, Illi­nois finds itself much worse off than we were four years ago. The full eco­nom­ic dam­age done to the state has yet to be ful­ly cal­cu­lat­ed. But for thou­sands of women turned away from domes­tic vio­lence shel­ters, tens of thou­sands of par­ents who lost the child care assis­tance pro­grams they need­ed to allow them to work, and so many oth­ers whose pro­grams, ser­vices and com­mu­ni­ties were gut­ted, the true cost of Rauner’s right-wing poli­cies can nev­er be tru­ly cal­cu­lat­ed — it can only be felt.

We need a governor who will champion a people’s agenda, and fight for a people-centered economy.

To repair the dam­age and move for­ward, we need a mas­sive invest­ment, both at the city lev­el for Chica­go, and the state lev­el for Illi­nois. We need a gov­er­nor who will cham­pi­on a people’s agen­da, and fight for a peo­ple-cen­tered economy.

Here are five key ways you can make Illi­nois thrive:

For decades, the state of Illi­nois has been divest­ing from pub­lic ser­vices. Illi­nois is the 5th largest econ­o­my in the coun­try, yet it ranks 47th in spend­ing on edu­ca­tion, health­care and human ser­vices. So job num­ber one is to begin to invest resources in ser­vices and pro­grams that allow work­ing fam­i­lies to have good jobs, care for their fam­i­lies and thrive in safe communities.

We must ensure that new rev­enue goes to rebuild the com­mon good. So let’s talk about rev­enue — num­bers two, three and four on your to-do list. We need to change the state income tax code so that wealth­i­er peo­ple like your­self pay your fair share in tax­es. We could raise at least $2 bil­lion in new rev­enue with­out rais­ing tax­es on 98 per­cent of the peo­ple in Illi­nois. If we adopt­ed tax rates like our neigh­bors in Wis­con­sin or Min­neso­ta, we could net bil­lions more in rev­enue. You cam­paigned on this promise, as have many Democ­rats in the past. Now, it is up to you to deliver.

Next, pass leg­is­la­tion in Illi­nois that clos­es car­ried inter­est loop­holes. These loop­holes allow Illi­nois hedge fund man­agers and pri­vate equi­ty part­ners — the wealth­i­est of the wealthy — to keep near­ly $2 bil­lion in tax breaks every year. Pres­i­dent Trump is pro­tect­ing the ultra-rich, we need a gov­er­nor who is ready to bat­tle Wash­ing­ton bul­lies in order to pro­tect our families.

Three, we need to legal­ize mar­i­jua­na and invest the hun­dreds of mil­lions in new rev­enue into the Black neigh­bor­hoods that have been most deeply crim­i­nal­ized by the war on drugs. Fund­ing should be used to move a racial equi­ty ini­tia­tive that includes fund­ing neigh­bor­hood invest­ment in blight­ed, dis­en­fran­chised areas; expunge­ment for those with pre­vi­ous cannabis tick­ets or crimes; re-entry ser­vices includ­ing but not lim­it­ed to hous­ing, job train­ing and place­ment, and men­tal health care.

Final­ly, gov­er­nor-elect Pritzk­er, you can sup­port stronger bills that end Illi­nois police coop­er­a­tion with ICE, and make sure Illi­nois is a true sanc­tu­ary state. Everyone’s human rights must be respect­ed. We all have the right to live in safe­ty and free from fear.

Illi­nois needs a gov­er­nor who is ready to repair and rebuild on day one.

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