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Studies finding Illinois lowest for racial equality has some looking for change

Photo caption: Black Lives Matter protest in Chicago (Untitled Title / Shutterstock)

With Illinois ranked the lowest for racial equality in economic outcomes by WalletHub, some are calling for changes to lift everyone up. 

A recent study from consumer finance website WalletHub put Illinois at the bottom of all states for racial equality. The areas reviewed include Illinois ranked 47th for both median household income and labor-force participation rate, 50th for unemployment rate, 33rd for homeownership rate, 40th for poverty rate, 46th for homeless rate, 49th for share of unsheltered homeless and 45th for share of executives. 

State Rep. Dan Ugaste, R-Geneva, announced the creation of the Opportunity Caucus he said is meant to bring policies forward to lift everyone up. 

“Any member [of the General Assembly] can join in providing real reform so we can get out of this problem we’re in of being 50th in the nation of racial economic equality,” Ugaste said. 

Teresa Haley, the Illinois State Conference President of the NAACP, said Illinois’ environment is not working to lift Black residents up. 

“Illinois is a dying state, it’s a dying community, and so we need to find ways to lower our taxes,” Haley told WMAY. “We need to find ways so that everyone can experience life abundantly and we don’t have that here in Illinois.” 

Separately, one example of inequality is the property tax rate in predominantly white Winnetka being around 8% while in predominantly Black Harvey, it’s around 26%. 

Ugaste said that devastates the Harvey economy.  

“A property tax rate that’s that high in Harvey, try and get a business to locate there when they have to pay a property tax at that rate,” he said. “It’s just not right. There are reforms that can be made.”

Republicans have attempted to get reforms to lower property taxes in Illinois without much support from the Democratic majority, Ugaste said. 

Haley said politics aside, Illinois policies need to change to lift everyone up, including Black Illinoisans. 

“And we’re not seeing it,” she said. “People leaving Illinois because of high taxes. People leaving Illinois because they can’t find a job, or the rich get richer and the poor stay poor is what we see in Illinois.”

Other WalletHub studies have found Illinois is 7th worst for racial equality in education and the 10th biggest wealth gap by race.

This article originally appeared on The Center Square.

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