Lawmakers Considering Doubling Tax Credit For Poor

Feb 20, 2014

Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago)

  Efforts to raise the minimum wage have been getting a lot of attention, but it's not the only proposal intended to improve the lives of the working poor. Following the call of Gov. Pat Quinn, some lawmakers want to double Illinois' tax credit for low income workers.

The earned income tax credit began as a federal program, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.

Illinois added its own state tax credit later. It's aimed at helping people work their way out of poverty by increasing their spending power.

Representative Barbara Flynn Currie, a Democrat from Chicago, wants to double Illinois' credit from the current 10 percent to 20 percent over the next four years.

"They're spending that cash. It's not sitting under a mattress, gathering dust," she said. "It isn't in a bank account. That's money people need to live, and that itself, is a boost to the economy."

Republicans, however, like Representative Jil Tracy of Quincy, say it can discourage workers from seeking more hours or better jobs.

"I think that kind of economic policy or tax policy is not good. We don't want to see people not want to improve themselves."

Illinois one of about a dozen states looking to increase the tax credit this year.