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CME tax break is ‘occupied’

About the time CME representatives were meeting with legislators in the state capitol yesterday, a huge group of people filed into the building’s rotunda and began a “people’s mike.”

The first mike leader began: “We are Occupy Springfield,” and the crowd repeated each statement he made, amplifying it through people power.  “We are the 99 percent.  We will be heard.  Vote no on SB 397.”  That’s the bill granting CME a break on the state income tax worth $60 million or more (see previous post).

As the first leader was escorted out by Capitol police, another was tagged and continued the statement, a process that continued until the police apparently decided to just let them finish.

“Lawmakers in Springfield should be fighting tax breaks for greedy corporations, not breaking promises made to working families,” they said, phrase by phrase.

“Lawmakers are threatening to drain money from the pensions of firefighters, police, teachers, of veterans and the elderly, of minorities and the disabled; they’re about to give away/ more money to the 1 percent – to the Mercantile Exchange, to the Board of Trade, to the Options Exchange – even though they represent the industry responsible for the economic meltdown.”  You can get the whole statement in the video below.

Legislators have reportedly decided to postpone a vote on the measure.

“We think it might have helped push it back a little bit, to have a big group of concerned citizens come in the Capitol building and make a huge deal about it in such an unorthodox fashion,” said Benny Ha Ha, one of Occupy Springfield’s contacts.

“CME is a very big corporation, and they’re very threatening toward our politicians,” he said.  “If they can’t buy them off they’re going to threaten to leave the state.”

Occupy Springfield has held a daily vigil at the Old State Capitol Plaza and last month delivered an eviction notice to lobbyists after a rally that drew hundreds.

The group’s participants are mainly from Springfield, with some coming from outlying areas, Ha Ha said.  As the video shows, they range from young to old, including students, workers and retirees.

The group is now planning a series of potlucks to reach out to people in different areas of the city, Ha Ha said, and they will publicize Black Friday, the big shopping day after Thanksgiving.

“It’s a big deal to us to buy local and pay with cash,” he said.  “We need to make sure local people are built up.”

And they’re planning to “push the envelope” when the legislature considers the CME tax break later in the month.

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Category: state budget, taxes

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