Letters: Top Legislative Agenda Should Be Climate Change

Re “Immigration and Infrastructure Top of Legislative Agenda for Republicans in Congress” (Ray LaHood’s column, February 2018):

I suggest a-top-of-the-agenda item for Congress—climate change. Tragically, the present Republican President, cabinet, White House staff and Congress not only do not identify climate change as a priority, they deny its existence. Or if they acknowledge it, they do not attribute it to human activity. The present Republican administration is so extremely anti the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists (>97 percent) that they have censored “climate change,” “global warming” and “scientific consensus” from federal agency websites such as the website of the EPA.

The future of our infrastructure and of our immigration policy must be studied and acted on carefully — but only within the context of the reality of climate change. Just maintaining our present infrastructure will require much more spending every year due to the consequences of extreme weather — such as floods, forest fires and mudslides — caused by climate change. Similarly, climate change is creating more environmental refugees, who then often need to migrate.

The Republican policy of “see no climate change, hear no climate change, speak no climate change” is a colossal failure for planet Earth.

Herman Brockman, Congerville

Fair Tax = Graduated Income Tax

The Illinois income tax structure is unfair and unsustainable. Our state is in a critical budget crisis and it seems as though the most effective solutions to create additional revenue are being overlooked by some of our legislators. Illinoisans want a fair tax. According to a 2017 poll conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Carbondale, 72 percent of people in Illinois support amending the constitution to allow for a graduated income tax.

Illinois is one of only eight states with a regressive income tax structure and one of only four that mandates a flat tax in its constitution. A flat tax is a tax policy that burdens middle income and working families. Currently, these families are spending a higher percentage of their total income to state and local taxes than wealthy taxpayers. A fair tax is needed to bring long-term structural reform that produces stable and sustainable revenue and fairness among Illinois tax payers.

Illinois is $16 billion in debt. A fair tax will create $2 billion in additional revenue per year for the state of Illinois. Switching to a progressive tax scale could give more than 90 percent of Illinoisans a tax cut and stimulate our already starving economy. The budget impasse placed our social services agencies, community colleges and state universities in a state of jeopardy, leaving them struggling without funding. A fair tax would create the additional revenue to fund our much needed agencies and schools.

A fair tax plays fair. The wealthy will still be wealthy with a fair tax. However, operating on our current regressive tax system contributes to Illinois’ already devastating poverty numbers. Illinois will continue to suffer if our legislators neglect to do the right thing and support amending the constitution allowing for a fair tax.

Chama St. Louis, Central Ill. Coalition Organizer, Peoria People’s Project

Keep auditor an elected office, not appointed

An interesting and binding referendum appears on the March 20 primary election ballot in Peoria County. The voters are being asked whether to eliminate the elected office of Peoria County auditor.

A “Yes” vote is to eliminate the position. A “No” vote is to keep it in place. Please vote “NO.” Here’s why:
The office is part of the county’s checks and balances system. The auditor is responsible to the people, not the county officials whose invoices and payments are audited.

The Peoria County Board cut the funding for the office a couple of years ago, prompting Auditor Carol VanWinkle to quit in disgust. Then a part-time auditor was appointed.

Now the argument from some on the board is that the office isn’t needed, and some elected auditors (not VanWinkle) have abused it by not doing the work.

Yet the board’s plan is to hire an auditor, with credentials, to do the job, full time. No money will be saved, but the board will have its own employee. Will that person blow the whistle on the board that hired him or her? Not likely. The person will have an inherent conflict of interest.

Eliminating the office removes some of the independent checks and balances in the county’s $130 million budget.

Since the voters may not agree with eliminating the office, candidates are also running to hold the office. One, Democrat Jessica Thomas, has the credentials to do the job and promises to work full time or more if necessary.

At a meeting she said if more help is needed and the board won’t fund it, she will recruit interns and volunteers to help. She’s got my vote.

Elaine Hopkins, Peoria

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