Tax hike rally held in Springfield

April 21, 2010 (SPRINGFIELD, Ill.)

The protesters are pressuring legislators to preserve funding for schools and state services.

About 12,000 people marched the streets calling for a tax increase at the "Save Our State" Rally. It drew state employees, teachers and advocates from social service organizations.

"I think there's a budget crisis and that they're not thinking about the future. And so we are here to help them think," parent Sofia Mehich.

During the noon rally, one speaker told the demonstrators to turn and shout at the capital that lawmakers inside the building should approve an income tax increase. But inside the House chamber, where the days are numbered before the scheduled May 7th adjournment, lawmakers of both parties remained skeptical.

"When you raise taxes, there's a lot of people in my district especially and in everybody's district that are just getting by," said State Rep. John D'Amico, (D) Chicago.

"Time and time again, we have shown the people of Illinois we don't know how to manage money, mainly the governor's office," said State Rep. Tom Cross, (R) House Minority Leader.

The chartered busses carried thousands of people to Springfield. They were teachers, students, parents, union members, social service providers and their clients - all frustrated that for nearly a second legislative session, the General Assembly has not approved a tax increase to help resolve the state's $13 billion deficit.

"It's important that people understand that we need this money for education or we are going to have 37 kids in a classroom," said Nanette Potee, Chicago.

The state Senate passed a tax increase bill last year. So far this year, House Speaker Madigan has not called an updated version of it for a vote.

"There's going to be a lot of legislators who are going to be demanding the opportunity to vote for an income tax proposal we can save education and human services," said State Rep. Will Burns, (D) Chicago.

After the rally, thousands of demonstrators jammed the capitol rotunda.The Linton family from Chicago's Northwest Side wanted a face to face meeting with their representative, D'Amico. D'Amico--who says he's not made up his mind on a tax increase--said he was too busy in the House chamber.

"You just can't walk off the floor at will to talk to everybody. I would like to talk to everybody. It just doesn't always work out that way," said D'Amico.

"If he doesn't have enough time to deal with one of the most important issues that we have in the state of Illinois right now which is funding education, gifted education, then he hasn't heard enough from us and he will hear from us now," said Martha Linton.

The demonstration leaders call themselves and the vast majority of their followers Democrats who voted in the party's majority in both the House and Senate. And that, they say, is one of the biggest reasons they are so frustrated.

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