Archive for April, 2011

Tax Day Has Come in More Ways than One

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Taxes in Illinois are going up, forcing families to work longer in 2011 before Tax Freedom Day – the day we cover our mounting debts to the government and begin earning for our families.

This year, Illinois Tax Freedom Day came four days later than last year – falling ironically on April 15. Tax Freedom Day came eight days earlier for people in Michigan (April 7), 10 days earlier in Indiana (April 5) and 11 days earlier in Missouri (April 4). The late fall of Tax Freedom Day in Illinois weakens our future family incomes against our Midwestern competitors.

According to the non-profit, non-partisan Tax Foundation, most U.S. taxpayers will reach Tax Freedom Day on April 12. Illinois taxpayers will need to work three more days compared to other Americans before their Tax Freedom Day. This year’s tax freedom event also is four days later than last year when Illinois Tax Freedom Day came on April 11, 2010. Illinois citizens must now work longer for the government before providing for their families due to the recent 66% increase in the individual state income-tax rate.

Tax Day Basics: Taxes Cost More than Food, Clothing, Shelter Combined

The Foundation calculates Tax Freedom Day annually by measuring the number of days Americans need to work to pay for all their federal, state and local taxes. While most U.S. residents will need to work 102 days to pay all their taxes, Illinois residents have to work 105 days, giving Illinois the ninth latest Tax Freedom Day in the nation. Mississippi had the nation’s earliest “Tax Freedom Day” on March 26 and Connecticut will have the latest on May 2.

Despite federal tax reductions, the Foundation said Americans will pay more in taxes in 2011 than they will spend on groceries, clothing and shelter combined. Overall, the Foundation said that taxes amount to 27.68 percent of all U.S. income, which is the same percentage of the year that the 102 days from Jan. 1 to April 12 represents, the report said.

Workers’ Compensation Reform Heading through Senate

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Senate Bill 1349 (McCarter-Brady-Dillard)

SB1349 Amendment 1 is the employer-supported workers’ compensation reform legislation. The amendment has been moved to the floor and resides on 3rd Reading where it will be voted on this week in the Senate.

The Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce has joined the Illinois Chamber of Commerce as well as local chambers throughout the state to advocate on behalf of the thousands of businesses in Illinois.

 

The Details

Illinois lags the nation in reducing workers’ compensation costs. The Oregon 2010 Index ranked Illinois as the 3rd highest state for costs. We must see double digit reductions on the scale that have been experienced by similar workers’ compensation reform efforts such has been undertaken by other populous and leading economic states like Florida, Texas and California. And of course we need to be conscious of our competitive positions relative to neighboring states of Indiana, Missouri and Iowa.

In round numbers our enterprise has 60,000 employees who currently have approximately 25,000 open workers’ comp claims pending before the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Indeed, our employees account for approximately a quarter of all the pending claims. Our costs are running in excess of $130-150 million a year.

Included in the amendment:

  • cutting costs by stopping abuses in the system
  • allowing employers to use group medical tools to control workers’ compensation medical care costs
  • collective bargaining for construction industry
  • commission ethics
  • fraud revisions

It is important to acknowledge that SB 1349 and the amendment we are proposing be adopted today is the culmination of a great deal of work, effort, research and input from many knowledgeable and informed professionals. Indeed, it is the only bill introduced this session that gives everyone an opportunity to engage in the details. It is important that it move forward in order that everyone who is interested in this subject matter has specific statutory language to focus on and to address. So far the opponents have simply said “no”. They want no change and they have offered no specific conversations to move this legislation forward in a constructive manner. Doing nothing is not an acceptable position.

Again, this bill could be called as early as today so contact your legislator TODAY to vote YES on SB1349 and its amendment.

Read the Chicago Tribune’s editorial on Workers’ Compensation here.

 

UPDATE: This employer-proposed workers’ compensation reform bill was voted on in the Senate on April 14 and failed; the vote was 25 yes, 6 no, 28 present. All Republican members of the Senate voted in favor of the measure; most Democrats voted present; Democrat Sen. Mike Jacobs voted “yes”.

Despite the defeat of SB 1349, supporters of workers’ comp reform are encouraged that there seems to be a real commitment to pass meaningful reform this session. Causation continues to be included in the discussions.

The Aurora Chamber thanks Senators Christine Radogno and Kyle McCarter for their leadership and support of this effort as well as local Senators Chris Lauzen and Thomas Johnson for their support.

Lobby Day Offers Opportunity to be Heard

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Are you concerned about the rising costs of doing business in Illinois?  Would you like to let legislators know why a pro-business agenda will create and retain jobs?  Now is your chance.

I urge you to participate in our upcoming Lobby Day on April 12 in Springfield and help us send a strong signal to state leaders about the need to create jobs and economic opportunity throughout our state. The Aurora Regional Chamber is joining with the Illinois Chamber, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (IACCE) and dozens of chambers from throughout Illinois for this event.

In the next two months, the Illinois General Assembly is expected to decide on workers’ compensation reform and other issues important to employers. Now more than ever, legislators need to hear from business owners and managers who can explain – in real terms – why state leaders need to make pro-business initiatives a priority.

Your participation is vital.  We need our members to weigh in and provide their stories on how Illinois’ policies are affecting their businesses and their customers.

During Lobby Day we’ll also offer an opportunity to hear from experts on the state’s most pressing issues, and to network with Illinois business and legislative leaders.  For example, there will be a panel discussion about the status of workers’ compensation reform. In addition, there will be a networking lunch that will include appearances by Senate President John Cullerton, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno and House Republican Leader Tom Cross.

Lobby Day Highlights

This year’s focus will be on promoting workers’ compensation reform and the Jobs Agenda – the Illinois Chamber’s comprehensive initiative addressing the state’s most pressing issues. For more information about the Jobs Agenda, visit the Chamber’s Job’s Agenda webpage.

Lobby Day will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 12. The morning session will include legislative updates. Among the highlights:

  • Doug Whitley, Illinois Chamber CEO, will kick off the morning with an overview of the Jobs Agenda and the urgent need for workers’ compensation reform in Illinois.
  • Todd Maisch, Illinois Chamber VP of Government Affairs, will deliver a pertinent briefing on “Hot Legislative Issues Affecting Employers,” covering matters of vital importance to you and your business.
  • A discussion, “Taxes, Taxes & More Taxes and the Fight to Hold Down State Spending,” conducted by leading members of the General Assembly, will provide an inside look at the fight to put our state’s fiscal house in order.
  • A compelling panel on Workers’ Compensation Reform – during which we’ll explore where Illinois has gone wrong on workers’ compensation and how we can correct it – will be moderated by National Federation of Independent Businesses State Director Kim Clarke Maisch and feature Jay Dee Shattuck, executive director of the Illinois Chamber’s Employment Law Council.

The workers’ compensation panel will also feature Jay Tebbe, Publisher of The Belleville News Democrat, whose newspaper has run a series of riveting stories on questionable and outlandish workers’ compensation practices in Illinois.

Following the panel will be a networking lunch, including confirmed guests Cullerton, Radogno, Cross and other legislators.  The lunch will also be a great opportunity to meet with other business leaders from around the state.

After the morning session, we will head to the Statehouse, where you can connect with legislators about some of the issues we discussed earlier that day, as well as others of more local interest.  This portion – the heart of Lobby Day – gives you the chance to put your personal story in front of legislators, and let them know how policies are affecting you, your business and your customers.

Register Now

We truly need your voice at this critical time.  This is a great opportunity for chambers that have government affairs committees to build on the good work they’re already doing.

The cost to attend Lobby Day, including lunch, is $49 per person.  To register for Lobby Day, plus a special Legislative Reception sponsored by the Naperville Chamber of Commerce, the cost is $99 per person. To register, visit the Chamber’s Lobby Day webpage.

If you have any questions regarding registration, or would like additional information about the program, please contact Laurie Silvey, Director of Events & Social Media at (217) 522-5512 ext. 223 or e-mail her at lsilvey@ilchamber.org.

We need to educate state leaders about the need to act now to improve Illinois’ economic climate.