To ensure a healthy business climate, it is important the business community take an active role in legislation affecting business.
The Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce joined with chambers of commerce around the state to approve a statewide Chamber Legislative Agenda. The agenda includes both standing policies and positions on specific issues.
As a local Chamber, we believe these issues affect our members and will support these positions:
Unemployment Insurance Tax Relief
- Position: To seek meaningful unemployment insurance tax relief that will spur economic growth, encourage job creation, and make Illinois more competitive among Midwestern states.
- Background: The 2000 UI Trust Fund end of the year balance was nearly $2.1 billion. The 1999 year-end trust fund balance was more than $2 billion. This total is $1.5 billion more than estimates for 1999 when the General Assembly last enacted UI tax relief. Employers pay 100 percent of the cost of our unemployment insurance system.
- Chamber proposal: When the economic time is right, the Chamber’s proposal is to eliminate the 0.4 percent fund-building surcharge paid by all employers. In addition, the Chamber supports additional tax relief for those employers who have used the system very little and, consequently, pay at the minimum tax rate. The Chamber supports cutting the minimum tax rate from 0.2 percent to 0.1 percent.
Health Care Mandates
- Position: Employers are not required to offer health benefits to their employees. It is an important benefit to offer, but thousands of businesses, primarily small, are unable to afford to offer health care. Government should not pass new laws that add costs on top of escalating health care inflation.
- Chamber proposal: The General Assembly and governor should impose a moratorium on new coverage mandates and conduct a cost-benefit study on existing mandates. The state should also work with business to develop a small business incentive program to help them provide coverage and lower the number of working uninsured. The state should not expand government-run health care programs while ignoring the private, employer-based system.
Minimum Wage Increase
- Position: Increasing the minimum wage in Illinois, while our surrounding states remain at the current federal level, with create a disincentive for job growth here. While the increase may not be enough to drive existing businesses away, it will act as a drag on future investment and job growth. A minimum wage increase is job-killing legislation affecting primarily those at the lowest end of the job skill spectrum. Eliminating low-skills jobs will make it harder for individuals to start to acquire basic employment experience.
- Chamber proposal: Illinois’ minimum wage should reflect the minimum wage set by the federal government. The Chamber opposes increases to Illinois’ minimum wage that will hurt our competitiveness with surrounding states, and prevent many Illinoisans from gaining employment.
Workers’ Compensation Reform
- Position: To remain economically competitive with other states—and other nations—Illinois must reform its workers’ compensation system through meaningful legislation.
- Chamber proposal: There are many reforms that need to be made to Illinois’ workers’ compensation system, including ending the abuse of repetitive trauma claims by requiring compensation of only those injuries actually caused by workplace activities.
Family and Medical Leave Act Expansion
- Position: Oppose the expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) because of the burdensome requirements it places on small businesses.
- Chamber proposal: Future attempts to lower the minimum employee requirement of the FMLA to less than 50 employees are opposed because of the burden it places on small businesses.
Pro-Investment Tax Policies
The research and development tax credit provides a 6.5 percent tax credit that can be claimed on increased R and D activities. This means if a company spent $1 million one year on R and D, and the $1,000,001 the next year, they would only be able to claim the one dollar increase for the tax credit. The Department of Revenue determines "increased activities" as any increase over the average expenditures for the previous three years.
- Proposal: The R and D credit should be expanded to cover all R and D expenses, not just year over year increases. However, the potential impact to state revenues will necessitate a rate lower than the existing credit of 6.5 percent.
The existing credit will be preserved as an option for businesses that do make significant year over year increases in their R and D spending. IBI