The state’s economic situation could be holding back its children.
“I don’t think anyone is naïve enough to think that this problem is just going to go away,” said State Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Round Lake Beach), at an announcement of the 2014 Kids Count report by Voices for Illinois Children. Yingling says past mismanagement is partly to blame for the current financial condition. “It’s a matter of making sure that we prioritize some of these programs, and we do have to accept the reality that there more than likely will be budget cuts this upcoming year.”
“If we do not maintain stable and sustainable revenue in this state, programs that impact children, families, and communities will be cut by devastating amounts, and we cannot allow that to happen,” says Emily Miller, the group’s policy and advocacy director. “Our families and communities cannot afford the level of cuts that would be required to put this state into the black.”
Miller says “stable and sustainable revenue” means either keeping the increased state income tax where it is, 5 percent, or switching to a progressive income tax, in which people who earn more are taxed at a higher rate. The income tax increased to 5 percent in 2011 and, without legislative action, is set to revert to 3.75 percent after 2014.
The bright spots in the report include decreases in the percentage of uninsured children and in the infant mortality rate. But racial and ethnic disparities remain. The reason for that gulf?
“Racism,” said State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston). “If you’re born black or Latino in the United States, your chances for having health and wealth are not as great.”