Laws make it hard to do business in Illinois

I am deeply concerned about stacked costs on businesses in our state.

For starters, Illinois jumped three spots in this year's annual "Judicial Hellholes" rankings, as reported by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA), which ranks America's worst civil justice climates.

A big reason Illinois moved up the list from 8th to 5th is because of Senate Bill 72, which now saddles defendants with a whopping 6% pretrial interest rate. Businesses are forced to lay off workers to cover legal fees or settle to avoid risking an expensive court loss.

In addition, lawmakers refuse to let workers and companies work together by restoring mediated arbitration in workers' compensation cases. Instead, small businesses must go to court rather than negotiate directly with employees, leading to unnecessary legal costs that mostly line the pockets of trial attorneys.

Further, amid COVID-19, our state government actually increased business taxes by $655 million for the third straight year, including preventing businesses from realizing tax deductions due to losses. How is this responsible governance when nearly every business is struggling and jobs are on the line?

The message from our lawmakers is clear. Nothing will stand in the way of their agenda - not lost jobs, not business closures and certainly not COVID-19. Our legislative leaders continue to protect and enrich their legal, union and government friends instead of promoting prosperity for working people in Illinois. The only businesses that remain are those already established here. Why would any business consider locating in such a prohibitive environment?

Climbing the rankings as a "Judicial Hellhole" should cause our government to reconsider, but that's unlikely in Illinois, where the economic benefit of working people is a low priority. We need legislators and a governor who want to build on our strengths, not continue to make things worse.

Jeff Pope


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