Lawmakers return to Springfield January 9
with two days to conclude the work of the 99th General Assembly
prior to the new 100th General Assembly convening on January 11.
Though it’s not known what issues may come up during the
“lame duck” session January 9-10, our top priority should be passage of a
full-year balanced budget containing the reforms needed to grow the state’s
economy and alleviate the property tax burden on homeowners, all of which will
help put Illinois on the path toward fiscal stability.
New Year demands action on budget
With the expiration of the stopgap budget on January 1, swift
and decisive action is needed to ensure those who rely on state assistance
continue to receive the funding they need to function.
Budget talks have been ongoing over the last several
months, as legislative leaders and the Governor tried to find common ground on
a budget plan and good-government reforms to create jobs, encourage greater
economic investment in Illinois and re-establish fiscal solvency and stability
in the state. However, Republican
leaders and the Governor have said that they will not agree to a plan that
simply maintains the status quo. Instead,
they said the people of Illinois deserve a balanced budget accompanied by the
structural changes necessary to address the state’s significant fiscal
Action on a fiscal package could be taken January 9-10 when
the General Assembly returns to Springfield for what many call a “lame duck”
session – a legislative session convened following the November
election, but prior to the seating of newly elected members of the Senate and
House of Representatives.
In the past, controversial legislation has been pushed
through the General Assembly during this short period of time when outgoing
lawmakers, who are no longer accountable to the voters, are recruited to vote
on particularly sensitive issues.
At this time, it’s not certain what legislation will come
before the Legislature on January 9-10; however, the focus should remain on the
most pressing issue at hand – a state budget resolution.
Bipartisan legislation to save EDGE tax credits for
Expiration of the state’s EDGE tax credit at the end of 2016 has many
lawmakers and employers calling for swift action to reinstate the program,
which supporters claim has created 34,000 jobs and retained an additional
46,000 jobs in Illinois since the program was created in 1999.
Bipartisan legislation has been filed (Senate Bill 3459) to create the Transforming, Helping, and Reviving Illinois’ Versatile Economy (THRIVE) Job Creation Tax Credit Act, which
would revive key components of, and improve upon, the state’s EDGE tax credit
Under the legislation, companies would receive credit for 50 percent of
the Illinois withholding attributable to created jobs. The credit would offset the corporate income
tax for that year.
Furthermore, companies must create 10 percent of the current global
workforce or 50 new jobs, whichever is less.
They must also have a capital investment of $2.5 million at the project
location in the state unless the company employs fewer than 100 employees.
Proponents of the legislation say that the state’s economy relies on its
ability to create and maintain jobs. The
incentives provide employers with a reason to stay in Illinois instead of
continuing to move in record numbers to neighboring states.
We have a well-trained workforce, some of the best Universities in the
world, some of the best farm land in the world, one of the best tourist draws
(Chicago); and we are a transportation hub for the country. But the politicians in Springfield—led by
House Speaker Michael J. Madigan—keep screwing up our state, resulting in a
pension system with the largest unfunded liability in the country, one of the
highest overall tax burdens and $11 billion in unpaid bills causing an exodus
of jobs, businesses and people from Illinois.
THIS MUST STOP. We must get the common-sense reforms proposed by
the Governor like workers’ comp reform, term limits, property tax relief,
redistricting reform, and pension reform. Without such reforms, programs
like THRIVE will only slow the exodus. With the reforms, we will send a
strong message that entrepreneurs and businesses are welcome in Illinois.
We could probably even withstand a temporary tax increase to pay off our unpaid
bills and stabilize our state. If politicians like Speaker Madigan cared
more about the future of our state than political power or money, we could
reach a successful, bipartisan budget agreement.