I am a positive person and choose to believe in the great hard-working people in this State. Being committed to that belief has made this a tough week. I believed Governor Pritzker when he said, a few short weeks ago, that things would be done in a collaborative, bi-partisan manner. Unfortunately, one of the most ground shattering policy changes in the history of the State of Illinois was done with no input from our side of the aisle, the various business groups of the State, and without any consideration for the negative ramifications that lie ahead in downstate Illinois. Raising the minimum wage by 83% may be of little notice to the City of Chicago and their 58 million visitors in 2018 alone, but this will have serious implications for downstate communities, especially border communities like Danville.
I have been in constant conversation with leaders in local government and educational institutions that have guaranteed this will lead to layoffs and dramatic property tax increases. I have spoken to Social Service groups providing essential resources for people needing critical services in my district, and they said this could be the final straw that will lead to them closing their doors on the most vulnerable people. My local chambers of commerce have told me the businesses that provide the great quality of life in my district have indicated they are thinking of moving across the state line. One gut-wrenching story from a small business owner in Rantoul was brought to my attention. His family has struggled for 25 years to compete within this anti-business climate. He now has to consider shutting down, because the increase in payroll cost for the business will eclipse the amount of money they make in a year. These real life stories affecting people in the 104th district and across the State was met with, “oh, well the economic modeling shows this will be good for the City of Chicago.” In the meantime, the Governor got his victory lap on the House floor Thursday and my communities are left to deal with the consequences.
While most of the week was tied up trying to voice the district’s concerns over the minimum wage, we were able to file a couple of good pieces of legislation. Illinois, long ago, implemented a corporate franchise tax on businesses, which is an unnecessary cost for doing business in Illinois. This tax put an additional burden on Illinois businesses that allowed their competitors in neighboring pro-business states to have an unfair advantage. This tax is outdated and hurts our ability to attract new business to the State, which is especially needed now more than ever. This is why I am sponsoring HB 3270 in order to eliminate the outdated franchise tax on Illinois businesses, and I hope to gain support on this bill from both sides of the aisle.
I, also, signed onto HB 2965 this week, which is a bill to eliminate the cost of living pay increases for the next fiscal year for elected legislative and executive officials. Until the finances of the State are fixed, legislators should not see any increase in their compensation. In the real world, you only get rewarded with extra pay for doing a good job. When we get the State fixed, we can have discussions about increasing legislative pay.
It has been a long and frustrating week for the tax payers of Illinois. It is always tough and sad to have these legislative setbacks, especially when you know the result will negatively impact your district. I am sure many more tough weeks lie ahead of us, but I am determined to stay in the fight to keep pushing for common sense reforms and bi-partisan discussion. I believe in the 104th District and in the Land of Lincoln. We will keep at it, fighting the good fight in Springfield, and try to give downstate Illinois a voice and a fair shot to succeed. Thank you, as always, for your support and let’s keep swinging away.