Austin minister, other clergy urge Chicagoans to vote for ‘fair tax’ amendment

October 6, 2020
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More than 50 Chicago area faith leaders will gather Tuesday to urge voters to support the fair tax amendment being pushed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The ministers, representing about 500 churches, say a vote in support of the amendment, which would allow the state to replace its flat income tax with a graduated rate, would help the poor and working class who disproportionately spend more money on taxes than the wealthy.

“It’s immoral for the working poor and the middle class to be carrying the bulk of the state’s tax load while millionaires and billionaires get free passes,” Pastor Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church said in a statement before Tuesday’s press conference.

“We must urge our state legislature to right this wrong by voting ‘yes’ for the fair tax amendment,” he said.

Pastor Michael Eaddy of the People’s Church of Harvest said he supports the replacing the state’s 4.95% tax because 90% of his congregants make far less than $100,000 and would pay less – between 4.75% to 4.9% – under the governor’s proposal.

“The relief that would come at 4.9% would literally put food on the table and money back in their pockets. The loss of income during COVID-19 has battered the families enough. They need relief now,” Eaddy said.

Taxpayers making between $100,000 and $250,000 would still be taxed at 4.95%, while those making more would be taxed between 7.75% and 7.95%, under the governor’s proposal.

Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, has given the Vote Yes for Fairness campaign $56.5 million.

Ken Griffin, the billionaire founder and CEO of the Chicago-based Citadel hedge fund and investment firm, has given $46.75 million of the approximately $48.1 million million received by the Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Hike Amendment, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Some clergy say it’s time the working class fights back and that the rich pay more.

“A budget is a moral document. Every decision about how we raise and spend money should be shaped by our moral lives,” Rabbi Max Weiss from Oak Park Temple said.

“The current flat tax in Illinois is immoral and places an unfair burden on the most vulnerable citizens in our state. The fair tax is a step toward a more equitable Illinois.”

After voicing their support of the Fair Tax Amendment, the vast clergy coalition will walk over to the Voting SuperCenter site to cast their early vote.

Others who were expected to attend Tuesday’s press conference include Father Michael Pfleger, Rev. Janette Wilson of Rainbow Push, Bishop Shirley Coleman, Dr. Marshall Hatch and Bishop John White.

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