Illinois' poverty scorecard looks familiar. Census figures show the percentage of Illinoisans in poverty is 14.7 percent, unchanged from 2012 to 2013. The median household income in the state is also unchanged, about $56,000. The median income is eight percentage points lower, and the poverty rate almost three percentage points higher, than the pre-recession year of 2007. “The issue is just too large to ignore,” says Jennifer Clary, a senior research associate with the center, “and the reality is we're not doing enough to really advance meaningful solutions to poverty in our state”
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The center says Illinois' leaders have failed to help turn things around. “There were 26 bills that were introduced in the last legislative session that were related to poverty,” says Kim Drew, the center's economic security policy project manager of the Illinois General Assembly, “and only seven of those proposals passed.” Clary describes the agenda as “anti-poverty.” Drew says keeping revenue up must be a priority, be it by keeping the income tax at five percent or switching to a progressive income tax rate. Poverty is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as, for a family of four, earning less than $24,028 in 2013.