Time for leaders to keep their promises on reform

By Todd Maisch
Guest columnist
Posted9/18/2017 1:00 AM
  • Todd Maisch

    Todd Maisch

"There is more work to be done, and we will continue working with Republicans to ensure the issues still on the table are fully resolved," House Speaker Michael Madigan said in a statement picked up by NBC Chicago after the Illinois House passed an income tax increase in July.

"We still feel like we want to fulfill our promise in the grand bargain to get those reforms passed," Senate President John Cullerton said back in May.

It's time for Democratic leadership to show they are serious about working together to pass some crucial reforms that have been on the table for months.

We have seen glimpses of bipartisan compromise, which is needed to refresh some of Illinois' most fragmented systems. Setting public policy should not fall on the shoulders of any one party. Now, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce calls on state lawmakers to pass essential reforms aimed to promote economic growth and job creation.

The business community finds it unacceptable that a 32 percent tax increase was implemented in early July without some much-needed reforms -- workers' compensation and property tax relief -- aimed to help bring jobs to Illinois and maintain the jobs already here.

Business advocates from various organizations have continuously fought for key changes to make the state run more effectively for our job creators. As the state has made progress, there is far more ground to cover. Sitting back simply is not an option.

Passing pro-growth policies for our businesses from startups to globally renowned companies would position Illinois as a more attractive state for jobs and investment. It would give Illinois more opportunity to win battles against Wisconsin, Iowa and all states competing for economic growth.

Illinois has opportunity right in front of it with the Toyota-Mazda plant and Amazon headquarters looking for places to land, an emerging tech industry in Chicago, a booming agribusiness statewide, and expanding infrastructure.

For job creators to choose Illinois, we must focus on passing pro-growth policies. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce calls on lawmakers to refocus efforts to:

1. Reform our workers' compensation system: Small businesses create an abundance of jobs in Illinois and the nation. We remain a strong champion of pro-growth policies -- including true workers' compensation reform -- that would help all Illinois businesses, but especially startups and small businesses.

2. Rejuvenate our tax system: Real property tax relief for employers would help ensure business owners invest here and not over the border. Initiating tax reform needs to happen on both a state and national level. We are committed to working with elected officials in the Illinois General Assembly and Congress to ensure that businesses are not overburdened by taxes.

3. Refresh our economic potential: Enacting more economic development incentives and ensuring the state stops spending more money than it can afford would help refresh the economy. Additionally, Illinois should look at more economic development incentives, such as tax incentives, which have made the difference between companies investing in other states over Illinois.

4. Revive our infrastructure investment: Reviving investment in our roads, bridges, transit, and all Illinois' infrastructure is pertinent to the state's economic success. We need greater investment for a more competitive Illinois. Illinois is a major transportation hub nationwide and we, along with the Transportation for Illinois Coalition, see it as a vital economic tool.

The Illinois Chamber values the economic success of our state. By encouraging lawmakers to support and pass pro-growth reforms, Illinois can make crucial economic progress and attract more job creators and overall potential. While a budget with a tax increase and little relief on employers is in place, the business community refuses to give up on key issues like workers' compensation, tax reform and further economic development.

Illinois deserves economic promise and growth. And it doesn't have to be so far out of reach.

Todd Maisch is president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

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