SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A World War II veteran from Chicago is using Memorial Day to urge Illinois lawmakers to pass a budget.
Alfred Klinger, 91, is part of a group that marched 200-miles from Chicago to Springfield in an effort to end the nearly 700-day legislative stalemate. They landed at the Capitol on Monday afternoon.
“I am walking to pay respect to those who are living, and who I want to live their full lives, to reach their full potential… and not have to beg, not have to live in the streets or live without food, education or clothing,” Klinger told reporters at the end of the march.
“I almost gave up my life in World War II and I swore to myself I wanted to make this country better, and the world better.”
Klinger, a lifelong resident of Hyde Park, says he’s worried about what lasting effect of going nearly 2 years without a budget, will have on people across Illinois.
“Not only for the people that I’m walking with, but for myself, my family, my relatives… The people I love, people I don’t love so much. I want them to live well.”
“That’s what we’re here for. That’s what makes this state beautiful,” he said.
The 15-day march to Springfield was organized by Fair Economy Illinois.
The group says their proposal, called the “People and Planet First Budget,” could raise an estimated $23.5 billion by closing corporate tax loopholes, implementing a graduated income tax and putting new taxes on financial transactions on LaSalle Street trading in Chicago.
Illinois has been without a budget since July 1st, 2015.