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CHICAGO (AP) -- Two years ago Peggi Huiskens was laid off from her advertising job and since then has only found part-time work. On Wednesday, she and her husband joined hundreds of other protesters in Chicago, decrying what they called excessive government spending since President Barack Obama took office.
"I'd like to see no more taxes," the 49-year-old from Evanston said. "Stop spending. Give us a break for a while."
On the day income taxes were due, hundreds of people attended rallies across the state, from Chicago and its suburbs to Peoria and Marion in far southern Illinois. They were modeled after the original Boston Tea Party and planned across the country, promoted by FreedomWorks, a conservative nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington.
In Chicago, the crowd cheered, waved American flags and chanted "USA! USA! USA!" as speakers talked about high taxes and government bailouts.
Laura Kotelman, 37, a Chicago business developer, said Cook County's high sales taxes brought her out for the protest. Shoppers in Chicago pay a cumulative 10.25 percent levy - the highest of any major U.S. city.
"It's a huge burden on regular people," said Kotelman, who says she will sometimes shop in the suburbs and Wisconsin to avoid the levy. "People are out of work and the every-day things they need to buy are being taxed."
Ronald Boetto said he drove 75 miles from Marseilles in LaSalle County to participate in the Chicago rally.
"What made this country great is capitalism and we're moving away from that direction," he said.
Angel Garcia, 32, an investigator from Chicago, held a sign that said "No more bailouts! No new taxes!"
"I'm still young enough that these policies will affect us for generations to come," Garcia said. "I hope politicians will listen and see that we're serious."
About 500 people gathered on the steps of City Hall in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, some wearing tea bags pinned to their clothing or tied around shirt buttons.
"I'm doing all the right things and I feel like we're getting punished," said Pat Fee, 54, president of the Naperville Area Republican Women's Organization, which sponsored the rally.
In Bloomington, protesters shouted, "Stop spending now." In Peoria, rally-goers sang "God Bless America" and said the Pledge of Allegiance.
Just under 400 people rallied on the steps of the state Capitol in Springfield, where speakers asked protesters to call lawmakers and speak up whenever they could about their spending and political views.
"I know in my house when we run out of money we have to stop spending," said rally attendee Terri Miller, 35, of Hillsboro. "I really wish we'd run the government like we run our homes."
Even federal lawmakers turned out for the protest. After attending the "tea party" in Springfield, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus - a Collinsville Republican - said Obama and congressional leaders "have crafted a budget that spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much."
"Today's tea parties exemplify what's great about the United States - citizens gathering peacefully to express their dissatisfaction with their government," Shimkus said. "I join them in saying no to outrageous spending and never-ending debt."
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Chicago Democrat, said in a statement that the protests were "an effort to mislead the public about the Obama economic plan" and called them "a shameful political stunt."
Associated Press writers Andrea Zelinski in Springfield and Jim Suhr in St. Louis contributed to this report.
Video from the Chicago Tea Party
Mancow Addressing The Crowd