The McDermed Dispatch for May 26th

I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend. Session is scheduled to end on May 31st and we are still very far apart on many issues. It’s going to be a tough week.

Memorial Day
       Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer. More importantly, it is the day that we take a moment to recognize and honor those who have died in the service of their country. Memorial Day was raised from an informal, local day of observance to national holiday through the effort of native Illinoisan General John A. Logan, a veteran of the Civil War. Due to the amount of work that still needs to be done, the House convened on Memorial Day.
       House Republicans took a moment for a small ceremony in front of the war memorial in the capital. At 3pm we held a moment of silences for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Veterans Employment
       On Thursday June 4th, Rich Sobczak, a Veterans Employment Specialist from the Illinois Department of Employment Security will hold the first monthly session on job preparation and educational/training programs to help veterans find employment. These sessions will take place at Hines VA Hospital, building 228, 4th Floor North from 9:00 to 11:00 am. Please bring your DD 214 member 4 form and your resume.

Worker’s Compensation- Madigan vs Rauner
       On Friday the House debated several amendments from Speaker Madigan on workers compensation reform. The presenter of the amendments urged a no vote. Why put forth an amendment asking a body to vote it down? Because again, instead of coming to the table to discuss realistic and necessary reforms to a broken system, Madigan is putting forth legislation claiming it as the “governors” and then having his majority party vote it down to embarrass the governor. Madigan’s proposals thus far have all been meant for failure.
       The business community, recognizing this farce, sent a letter to legislators on Friday asking that they vote against Madigan’s proposals:
                “At this time, we are asking all House lawmakers to vote present on the workers’ compensation amendments filed yesterday until our elected officials have reached comprehensive agreement on reform. Illinois employers stand ready to work with leaders on both sides of the aisle.”
       The Governor has filed his own bill on worker’s compensation. The bill would require the cause of a worker’s injury to be factored into worker’s compensation benefits, put greater flexibility in to the arbitration process, and includes protections for those who work multiple similar jobs in a row and get an aggravated injury, like that of the coal miner we heard during the worker’s compensation Committee of the Whole.

“Millionaire Tax”
        Speaker Madigan’s so-called ‘millionaire tax’ which would add a 3% surcharge on income earned over $1 million dollars was debated last week. The Illinois Constitution establishes a flat tax rate and so a constitutional amendment is necessary for any change. The leader of the Senate has said that he will not consider any constitutional amendments until next year, but Madigan still put forth this amendment with just over a week left in session.
     The tax was promoted as a way to help fund education, however nothing in the language of the amendment directly helps school districts. The amendment simply authorizes the General Assembly to pass a hypothetical future bill on where this money will go. When Illinois instituted a lottery it was similarly claimed that it would bolster education funding. Instead of increasing overall funding the state simply reduced its obligation to the school fund in the amount from the lottery. Nothing in the amendment prevents the GA from making the same moves they did then.
       I take issue with this specific proposal for a number of reasons. We’ve seen how this type of legislation can have negative effect on jobs and tax receipts in states like New Jersey, which instituted a similar change in 2004. A 2011 New Jersey Treasury study found that changes in their tax rates had led to a cumulative loss of 20,000 taxpayers and $2.5 billion in annual state income. This legislation will potentially have a negative effect on small businesses as well as many are pass-through entities. 71% of small businesses file as individuals. Many of those businesses and their owners have income that exceeds one million dollars, but most of the owners of those companies leave much of that income in their businesses and reinvest in growing their companies. This leads to investment in the community and more jobs. Finally, putting a specific dollar amount in the constitution, which is incredibly difficult to change, is a bad idea. In 1970 when the Illinois Constitution was adopted, $164,000 was equivalent to $1 million today.
       Any possible revenue from HJRCA26 wouldn’t be reaped until at least 2017/2018 and does nothing in the meantime to address the budget shortfall we are currently facing. Governor Rauner has said no revenue before reform. The taxpayers shouldn’t have to keep reaching in to their pockets only to give to a state that has proven it cannot properly manage funds. Instead of working to fix the problems, the problem makers are asking the taxpayers to bail them out with no guarantees that the irresponsible spending practices will change.

Term Limits
        Freshman from the Republican caucus in the House, including myself, held a press conference last week calling for term limits. House Republicans have filed four separate constitutional amendments aimed at imposing term limits in Illinois; all seek to put on the ballot limits on legislative terms to varying degrees. On Friday the Governor filed his own amendment limiting legislators to a total of 10 years and executive officials to 8 years.

Turnaround Agenda
     The majority party has proven intractable and has seemingly left the negotiation table in the working groups. So on Friday, Governor Rauner filed several pieces of legislation relating to his Turnaround Agenda. The five bills that were introduced reflect some of the compromises and concerns raised by Democrats in the working groups. His bills included reforms to tort laws limiting venue shopping by lawyers, reforms to workers compensation, a temporary property tax freeze on all governments (including home rule units), an amendment to the Illinois constitution instituting term limits, a constitutional amendment to the remove legislators from the redistricting process, and a bill allowing a unit of local government to seek Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection after attempting to find a solution through a neutrally guided process. The governor’s office has put forth their legislation because Democrats have stopped negotiating in good faith. The majority party has walked away from the working groups, which were meant to reach bipartisan compromise, instead throwing around fake pieces of legislation and playing politics. It is up to the Speaker to see if these bills get a legitimate chance for debate and a vote.

Department of Transportation Releases Plan
  IDOT has announced a FY2016-2021 proposed Multi-Modal Transportation Improvement Program. The program has an anticipated spending level of just over $8 billion dollars with $5 billion going to improvements to the state highway system and $3 billion to the local highway system. The majority of the money will be used for road and bridge maintenance. The money is being provided by mostly by federal highway funds, but also through gas taxes, vehicle registration fees, and the consolidation of transportation programs. These sources face an uncertain future and so this program is expected to be supplemented by a separate planned capital bill that is being considered in a statewide tour.

Chase Looking To Help Small Businesses
        Chase recently celebrated National Small Business Week with the launch of Mission Main Street Grants, a program that will award $100,000 grants to 20 U.S. small businesses. In addition, the 20 grant recipients will receive a trip to LinkedIn’s California headquarters to gain insights that will help them grow their businesses. Today through June 5, any for-profit business in the U.S. with fewer than 100 employees and which meets all other eligibility requirements may apply. Full eligibility requirements are available at www.MissionMainStreetGrants.com/rules. The contest ends on June 5th.
        Small businesses can also get a boost by going to www.metrochicagoexports.com. To help small businesses located in our area expand their sales to new international markets, Metro Chicago Exports builds off the work of the Global Cities Initiative to help grow our local communities by connecting them to global markets.

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