JOLIET – A “March to Springfield” stopped in Joliet on Wednesday offering a certain take on the state budget crisis.
It’s no accident, said Joe Padilla, one of the marchers in the 200-mile walk that started in Chicago on Monday.
“The large corporations and the One Percent have created this budget crisis purposefully,” Padilla said.
Padilla was one of the speakers who led what was called a listening session attended by about 60 people at the Senior Services Center of Will County.
Those at the meeting were invited to talk about the effect of the state’s budget problems on their lives.
Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan were not mentioned much by speakers. But large corporations and people with wealth were blamed by the marchers, who will arrive in Springfield on May 30 to push their plan for a state budget.
That plan includes closing higher taxes for corporations and more funding for social services.
Fair Economy Illinois, which organized the march, also advocates universal health care and free tuition at public universities in Illinois.
“The thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way,” Tobita Chow, chairman of The People’s Lobby, said after reciting numbers showing a decline on spending for social services in the state.
“Illinois is the fifth wealthiest state in the country,” Chow said. “There’s a lot of money in Illinois.”
The marchers also advocate changing the income tax from a flat tax to a progressive tax so that people making more money would pay a higher percentage of their income.
Chow said people making $19,000 a year pay about 13 percent of their income on state and local income taxes, while those making $500,000 or more pay under 5 percent, and most corporations pay nothing.
“If you paid anything in income taxes in April, you paid more than two-thirds of the corporations in this state,” Chow said. “There are resources in this state. The problem is they are concentrated too much in the hands of a few.”
Only 14 people, including Padilla, are making the march all the way down to Springfield. But the group picks up people each time it walks into a town.
Jody Martin of Bolingbrook was among 10 people who joined the group as it marched into Joliet.
“We must stand up to those who hold us down,” Martin told the gathering at the Senior Services Center.
At least 500 people are planning to come down May 30 when the marchers reach Springfield, said Kristi Sanford, spokeswoman for the march.
“It will be big,” Sanford said.
The next listening session will be at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in Dwight at the New Life Assembly of God Church.
Visit this article at TheHerald-News.com for video from the listening session.