Illinois lawmaker getting international reaction to ‘fat tax’ suggestion

Hannah Hess

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. • A controversial comment by an Illinois lawmaker about taking away state tax deductions from parents who have obese children has drawn attention nationwide. Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh, bloggers on Gawker, the New York Times and the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail are among the outlets running with the story.

“It’s the parents’ responsibility that have obese kids,” state Sen. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga, said Tuesday, when lawmakers took a shot at solving the state’s obesity epidemic. “I think you need to look at a bill to take the tax deduction away for their child if he’s obese.”

He added: “In poorer families, they actually get money for their kids. I’d take that money away.”

The Republican has not introduced legislation to deny parents the $2,000 standard tax deduction. He responded to the story Wednesday, saying in a statement that he was only kidding:

“I certainly regret my choice of words in the recent debate on Senate Bill 396. It was a tongue-in-cheek comment taken out of context – and should not be taken seriously. I am sensitive to the need to reduce childhood obesity. But I don’t believe a new tax one everyone who buys juice, soda and energy drinks will accomplish the goal. Parents have to take some responsibility.”

However, video shot during yesterday’s committee hearing by Illinois Statehouse News Service may indicate otherwise. The video seems to show Cultra being completely serious when he made the comments. No one in the room laughed and other speakers begin talking in response…

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H/T Michele Bachmann on Facebook.

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