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#TaxesMakeHealthHappen: Maintaining Illinois’ population? Let’s talk about fair taxes!

Apr 17, 2018

In honor of tax day, Senior Policy Analyst Tiffany N. Ford and Director of Health Equity Wesley Epplin wrote the following response to recent Chicago Tribune editorials looking at Illinois’ tax system in the run up to the gubernatorial election.

Recent editorials on the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates ask the question we are all wondering: “who’s got the best plan to rescue and revive Illinois?” Illinois faces a long-term fiscal crisis, so examining our tax structure is essential to helping the state and making Illinois an attractive place to live. Political candidates grappling with why the state is losing population can find their answer in Illinois’ inequitable tax system.

There is a broad misunderstanding about the importance and value of taxes in supporting a fair and equitable society. Taxes advance an equitable society by ensuring availability of goods and resources that people need and deserve for a high quality of life. Taxes support budget priorities such as education, workforce development, road and bridge maintenance, and healthcare. Illinoisans have common interest in an equitable tax system that provides these. Yet, Illinois’ current flat income tax does not provide sufficient revenue, contributing to localities passing higher taxes that are unaffordable for many.

While one Tribune editorials says, “taxes already are high…” the numbers show a more complex picture. Insufficient state income taxes lead to high taxes at the local level. Local governments must make up for inadequate state support for essential services, such as education, so people experience high sales and property taxes—Illinois’ 2017 property taxes were second highest nationally.

In 2015, Illinois’ state and local tax system ranked fifth most unfair, meaning poor and middle class residents pay a higher percentage of their income to state and local taxes than the wealthiest Illinoisans pay. Despite common myth, a graduated income tax would be fairer because it moves toward people paying their fair share into the tax system that benefits us all. A graduated tax, which 33 other states have, is more equitable in that higher earners pay a fairer share while raising revenue needed for services that benefit all Illinoisans.

Regardless of income, political party, or location in the state, taxes matter for the quality and equity of services that matter for Illinoisans’ high quality of life. Fair tax policy will get us there. No matter the outcome of the November election, Illinois needs a graduated income tax.

Chicago Schweitzer Spring 2018 Newsletter Now Online

Apr 16, 2018

Our latest Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellowship Newsletter rounds up our recent Schweitzer activities including:

  • A spotlight on Cuidate—a whole health initiative for Latino women and families at the Roberti Community House—initiated by 2017-18 Fellow Maryclaret Ndubuisi-Obi, a student from DePaul University School of Nursing
  • A special thank you to our mentors
  • Pictures and information from our annual service day at Arts of Life and much more
We invite you check out the newsletter here and stay engaged and involved with this innovative service learning program.

Nominations Open for the 2018 HMPRG Awards

Mar 29, 2018

Nominations are now open for the 2018 HMPRG Awards! Honoring individuals and organizations across six categories, the awards celebrate those whose work exemplifies Health & Medicine’s mission to promote social justice and challenge inequities in health and health care.

The Awards are open to anyone - from health care professionals to volunteers, academics, advocates, and community members - whose ideas, vision, action, and activism have positively impacted health and health equity in our community. The broad award categories recognize the achievements of individuals at all stages of their public health careers including “emerging leaders” under 30.   

Nominations are due by June 10, 2018. To learn more or to nominate a health leader whose work inspires you, click HERE.

Health & Medicine Meets with IL Legislators to Promote ACE-Informed Policies

Mar 26, 2018

On March 7th, Health & Medicine and our Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative hosted a Legislative Briefing in Springfield with Representatives Juliana Stratton (5th district) and Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (99th district).

The briefing provided an overview of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in Illinois and how state systems can promote trauma-informed approaches to delivering care.  Gene Griffin, JD, PhD gave an overview of ACEs, trauma, and resilience, which was followed by a discussion on how to integrate trauma informed practices in systems like education, health, and criminal justice.  Legislators from across the state joined us, including Representatives Butler, Bristow, Finnie, Lilly, Wallace, and Mussman, and discussed the need for trauma informed care in their districts. 

We were joined by representatives of the Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative from United Way of Illinois, Lurie Children’s Hospital, The Illinois Collaboration on Youth, and the ChildLaw Policy Institute at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.