The last few months have been an incredibly difficult time for our state and its residents, and the constituents I serve as state  representative for Illinois’ Seventh District are certainly no exception. So many families are living paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet, and it’s the responsibility of our government to do what we can to help those most in need.

For decades, Illinois has failed at that fundamental responsibility when it comes to the way we levy our state income tax. Our current tax system taxes everyone at the same rate whether you’re a billionaire or an essential worker like a janitor or grocery store clerk at a minimum wage job. That’s simply not fair.

This tax system also forces low and middle income Illinoisans to pay almost 14 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while the wealthiest 1 percent get away with paying nearly half of that. Luckily, we don’t have to settle for the status quo. We have the power to change our tax system to one that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few, by passing the Fair Tax in this election.

The Fair Tax would update our broken, outdated tax system to the one used by a majority of states and federal government, while keeping taxes the same or less for at least 97 percent of Illinoisans. Only those making more than $250,000 a year – those who
have found success in our state and can afford to pay their fair share – would see a tax increase.

The extra revenue generated by the Fair Tax can help Illinois on more stable fiscal footing and go toward funding critical programs, including our education system. I think all Illinoisans can agree that we must ensure our schools are properly funded to give our children the best education possible.

Before becoming State Representative, I worked on the Proviso Township High School Board of Education for over a decade. During that time, I saw firsthand how a lack of funding makes it much more difficult to teach our children and prepare them for the future. It’s far past time to put the years of outdated textbooks, crumbling schools, and ever-growing class sizes behind us, and the Fair Tax is a critical step toward making that a reality.

Throughout my time in the legislature, I’ve always been driven by trying to pass policies to help people of color and our working families in my district and across the state. There is so much to be done, especially to help address the inequality in this state, that it can be easy to get discouraged. But I’m hopeful that we’ll take a major step forward by passing the Fair Tax in November.

A better Illinois is one where everyone, regardless of gender, race, or zip code, can access opportunities to thrive. We have a long road ahead of us to get there, but one thing we can do right now is pass the Fair Tax in November to fix our broken tax system
and help all Illinoisans get ahead.

Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch is the State Representative for Illinois’ Seventh District.