For far too long, Illinois lawmakers have neglected the Illinois business community. They seem to have forgotten these local businesses make up the backbone of our state’s economy.
They are what bring our communities together and provide jobs for the hardworking people of our great state.
Why, then, do our elected officials continue to pass anti-business legislation that burdens and adds extra costs to Illinois’ job creators?
This is particularly perplexing given the current state of the economy and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It’s no secret 2020 was unkind to businesses; so many of us had to shut our doors, unable to create any revenue for months. Now we are back and slowly picking up the pieces. However, as we do this, we’re coming to terms with what it means to operate a business amid an ongoing pandemic.
This includes the purchasing of safety equipment — masks, thermometers, etc. — that are now necessary to keep our customers and employees safe and healthy. Many of us have had to reorganize floor plans, buy and install dividers and Plexiglass to ensure proper social distancing, and implement capacity limits. All this while we’re doing everything we can to keep valued employees on our payroll.
What we need is support. But when we turned to our lawmakers, we were turned away. Rather than passing laws that would have helped us get back on our feet, they have instead tried relentlessly to pass laws that will only hurt us more by piling on additional requirements and costs that we can’t handle.
Our lawmakers’ anti-business tendencies picked up steam in 2019 when they began passing new tax and costly regulatory requirements on Illinois business owners. This included a significant, phased-in minimum-wage increase that will move it from its current rate of $11 an hour to $15 an hour by 2025. At the same time, most of our neighboring states continue to honor the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, making our labor costs wholly uncompetitive with our neighbors.
In early January, Gov. J.B. Pritzker attempted to decouple Illinois from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act passed in March 2020. Pritzker essentially wanted to take away the CARES Act’s tax benefits intended to make up for the business community’s losses and instead implement a massive tax hike on them.
Pritzker ultimately failed in these efforts, although he has plans to revisit the issue. Had he succeeded, there is no telling how many more businesses would have vanished under his watch, and we must continue to urge legislators to oppose this.
The most recent example of our lawmakers’ anti-business efforts came during the lame-duck session in January when the General Assembly pushed through HB 3360 during the final days of the last session. There was no debate or discussion given the last-minute nature of it all, and the repercussions could be devastating.
Under HB 3360, litigation costs would soar for Illinois’ hardworking business owners. If a trial attorney looking to line their pockets wants
to sue us over a ridiculous claim, the litigation fees that would go into defending ourselves in the lawsuit would be enough to put us out of business for good.
If our lawmakers continue down this anti-business path, we will continue to lose precious local institutions that have served and employed our people for years.
In 2021, I ask lawmakers to consider the consequences of their decisions, especially now as our businesses continue to deal with the devastation brought by the pandemic.
Further, I urge them to consider the benefits that would result from more pro-business decisions, including a more stimulated economy and job creation. For everyone’s sake, I hope they listen.