50 community leaders take demands to Illinois leadership, Lisa Madigan in Springfield
On Tuesday (May 24), 50 community leaders from the statewide coalition, Make Wall Street Pay Illinois, held a press conference with Rep. Will Davis in front of the Illinois Capitol building in Springfield to share their testimonies, and call on the Illinois legislature to hold make the banks pay their fair share.
Shani Smith from Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) shared her story of how the bank took advantage of her, ballooning her monthly payments from $750 to more than $2,000 without any real justification.
Crystal Sahler from Lakeview Action Coalition (LAC) testified that Chicago homeless youth programs saved her life when she found herself homeless after her mother died from a brain aneurism.
General Parker from Illinois People’s Action (IPA) described the miserable state of many homes in his Peoria neighborhood and proposed to legislators that if big banks got bailed out, so too should his hard working neighbors.
Rep. Will Davis stood with leaders at the press conference to announce his support of their full legislative agenda, and pledged to help move his colleagues in the House and Senate.
Following the press conference, leaders held meetings with House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, top level staff from Senate President John Cullerton’s office, and presented signatures to Susan Ellis, Assistant Bureau Chief of Consumer Fraud from Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office to hold public hearings on toxic interest swaps. The group was disappointed that Lisa Madigan herself could not meet with the group, especially after a last-minute cancellation with some of the organizations of Make Wall Street Pay Illinois earlier in the month.
Rep. Currie has previously supported HB 1810 and 1109—legislation to hold banks accountable on foreclosures and vacant properties—after meetings with SOUL. During yesterday’s meeting, Rep. Currie gave her support to making sure corporations and big banks do not receive state tax breaks based on a federal law called capital depreciation, a measure that would save Illinois $600 million next year.
Sen. Cullerton’s office reported they are working on a Senate version of HB 1109, and are happy to represent our concerns on interest swaps and capital depreciation when speaking to bank lobbyists.
Leaders were also able to meet with Senators Donnie Trotter, Kwame Raoul, Heather Steans, Jeff Schoenberg, and Rep. Robyn Gabel.
Make Wall Street Pay Illinois leaders were well received in Springfield, but were alarmed that many of the legislators and Illinois leadership do not know about the interest rate swaps that are currently costing the state $88 million in annual interest payments. Leaders will be following up with legislators they met with yesterday, and will continue to reach out and educate more communities and legislators across Illinois.
This Springfield visit was a follow up to a series of statewide demonstrations held by Make Wall Street Pay Illinois on May 12 in six Illinois cities that called on J.P. Morgan Chase to account for their role in toxic interest rate swaps and the foreclosure crisis.