Unwilling to be baited into a false debate about budgets that put all the responsibility on hard-working families, more than 500 Illinoisans joined together to launch Make Wall Street Pay Illinois on Thursday.
In the face of Illinois' $6 billion budget deficit, the state says there is no alternative but to continue to cut mental health services, funding for public education, programs for low-income children and care for seniors. Meanwhile, Wall Street and big banks are foreclosing on hundreds of thousands of Illinois families and neglecting to pay their fair share of taxes. Wall Street and big banks like JP Morgan Chase are projected to cost Illinois taxpayers $7.4 billion dollars alone in costs associated with foreclosures by 2012. Yesterday, in response, protestors in six cities delivered the message to JP Morgan Chase and Illinois elected officials that it is time for Wall Street to end the revenue crisis, create jobs and stop illegal foreclosures.
"This isn't a spending crisis. We're in a revenue crisis because corporations and the rich aren't paying their fair share. In fact, they are costing us, and we're picking up their tab. We don't want to hear about deficits anymore. We found the money and we're going to get it back," said Curtis Smith of Lakeview Action Coalition.
"Make Wall Street Pay Illinois" was launched through a series of actions at JP Morgan Chase locations and offices of state legislators in downtown Chicago, Skokie, Homewood, Peoria, Springfield and Bloomington yesterday. The campaign presented a plan to get much-needed money out of the hands of Wall Street and big banks and back in the Illinois state budget:
Hold hearings on rotten deals, "Interest Rate Swaps" that overcharge interest to the state and our cities and towns. These rip-offs cost the state budget $88 million per year and our cities and towns hundreds of millions more and we want out. The campaign has an online petition asking Illinois State Attorney General Lisa Madigan to investigate bad deals with banks that cost taxpayers millions that they will hand deliver on May 24th.
Pass HB 1810 to enact a $500 fee on banks for foreclosing on homeowners. This would fund mediation programs that would allow 75% of homeowners to modify their loans, stabilize communities and put $20 million back into our state budget.
Pass HB 1109 to allow communities to charge fees for bank owned vacant property that is not kept up. These fees can be used to keep up property, reduce crime, stabilize home values, return property taxes to local communities and boost the Illinois economy.
Get Illinois out of the ridiculous federal rules that allow corporations to write off costs far in advance of spending them. This corporate welfare costs Illinois as much as $1 billion per year.
At J.P. Morgan Chase Bank's main downtown branch, a group of community leaders were able to enter the bank and secure a meeting with VP James Gilliam before they were escorted out of the bank lobby by police who had set up checkpoints in advance of yesterday's action.
These actions are part of a series of campaigns to ensure that big banks pay their fair share for breaking the economy, stopping passing on costs to taxpayers and simply pay their fair share of taxes. Make Wall Street Pay Illinois is now preparing to send a delegation to the Showdown in Ohio at JP Morgan Chase's May 17th shareholder meeting in Ohio.
For more information, visit www.makewallstreetpayillinois.org
Follow George Goehl on Twitter: www.twitter.com/streetactionNPA