BRADY SAYS BOND SALE PROOF THAT PENSION REFORM WILL TURN ILLINOIS AROUND
On Thursday, December 12, Illinois sold $350 million of taxable general obligation bonds via auction. This was the first bond sale since the General Assembly passed comprehensive pension reform and according to State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) the interest rates Illinois got are proof that passing pension reform, while the tough choice, was the right choice.
“Voting for pension reform last week was by no means an easy vote, but today’s bond rates are proof that we made the right decision,” said Brady. “With this latest bond sale our penalty decreased by 29%. That’s huge improvement and good news for Illinois.”
To understand how good the rates Illinois received today are, it is helpful to compare the state’s taxable bond rates to current U.S. Treasury rates. Illinois’ average rate is 2.51 percent higher than today’s 10-year Treasury rate. The state’s bonds sold in the spring were 3.10 percent over the Treasury rate which means that pension reform helped lower Illinois rates by over a half-percent.
“The bond sale isn’t the only positive indicator that passing pension reform is helping to improve Illinois’ financial outlook. Earlier this week Standard & Poor’s changed our bond rating outlook from negative to developing,” said Brady. “It is very possible that, depending on the implementation of pension reform and how we handle the budget, Illinois will see improvement in our bond ratings.”
BRADY CALLS ON GOV, HOUSE TO PASS ADM INCENTIVE
State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) is calling on Governor Pat Quinn to bring the House back to Springfield to pass an incentive package to keep multinational agricultural product processor Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Illinois after it was announced on December 10 that the newly merged office Max and Office Depot had chosen Boca Raton Florida as their new corporate headquarters instead of Downers Grove.
“We have to do what we can to keep job creators in the state of Illinois,” said Brady. “The Senate did its job and passed incentives for Office Depot Inc. and ADM. The House adjourned without taking up either measure and now we’ve lost out on the jobs that would be created by having a major corporate headquarters in our state. But this goes far beyond one lost opportunity. The leisurely, passive attitude of the Governor and House sends a powerful message to all businesses in Illinois, that they don’t really feel any urgency to protect jobs and assist employers. Instead, we have to actively foster a business climate that creates jobs for the people of this state.”
The newly formed Office Depot Inc. had sought an EDGE tax credit from Illinois as an incentive to locate their headquarters in Illinois during the spring legislative session. While the incentive passed in the Senate in early December during a one day special session, the house adjourned without taking up that measure. After the tax incentive failed to pass in the Illinois House, Office Depot chose to relocate its headquarters to Boca Raton.
The House also failed to take up a similar measure aimed at keeping ADM in Decatur. ADM announced earlier this year that it was considering relocating its global headquarters after more than 40 years in Decatur IL. While Chicago was among the cities under consideration, it was also revealed that major cities in other states were also trying to woo the agricultural giant.
The incentive package for ADM requires the company to maintain 200 full-time employees at its new corporate headquarters, relocate 100 employees into Decatur from somewhere outside of Illinois within five years and further stipulates that ADM must hire at least 100 new employees every year for five years at the Decatur location to continue to qualify for the EDGE credit. Additionally, the bill requires ADM to establish an internal committee for five years that promotes jobs in Decatur.
“I urge the Governor Quinn to bring the House back to Springfield so we can keep jobs in Illinois,” said Brady. “The House needs to act soon if we want to ensure that ADM does not to follow Office Depot’s lead and leave Illinois. But, more importantly, the Governor and the House Speaker need to wake up to the need to keep jobs and employers in Illinois.”
SAFE SHOPPING GUIDE
Around the holidays every year Illinois’ Attorney General releases an annual Safe Shopping Guide—hoping to address the growing concerns of recalled children’s products being sold on secondhand websites such as eBay, Craigslist and Amazon.
As the holiday season nears, Attorney General Lisa Madigan warns consumers about the dangers of buying toys that have been found by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to be choking, noise or chemical hazards. Although recalled products must be removed from store shelves, many of these products can be found online – posing risks for children.
The 2013 Safe Shopping Guide features nearly 100 different children’s products that have been recalled due to defective components.
COUNTDOWN TO NEW LAWS
As 2013 comes to a close and we prepare for a new year many new laws will soon go into effect. However, not all of these laws will have a positive effect on the state.
The process of having a criminal record expunged (or wiped clean) is the focus of one controversial new law. During the past week, the problem was highlighted when the Chicago Sun-Times ran a two-part story on a Quinn administration official who holds a six-figure position, despite two dozen arrests and having been fired for lewd and inappropriate emails.
The individual had been able to have much of his criminal record expunged. House Bill 2470, which passed with no Republican support in the Senate would make the process easier for convicted criminals. The measure passed despite concerns raised by the Illinois State Police during committee hearings about its potential impact on public safety.
SMALL BUSINESSES OPPOSED BILLS
Among the new laws that will go into effect on January 1 is a trio of measures largely opposed by small business owners. The measures were approved despite opposition from State Senator Bill Brady and the rest of the Senate Republican Caucus.
Opponents raised concerns because all three measures impose new regulatory burdens on smaller employers, while exempting large unionized companies from having to meet the same requirements.
They fear increased regulatory burdens will further harm the state’s small businesses at a time when Illinois has the second highest unemployment rate in the country and questioned why regulations were being applied unevenly. The state’s major small business organization, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), opposed all three bills.
House Bill 923 requires construction companies to report payments to nonemployees for construction services. Proponents argued it would ensure that contractors are properly funding workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance by paying related taxes. However, the legislation offered an exemption that can only be met by union contractors.
Kim Clarke-Maisch who is the Illinois State Director for the NFIB, said her organization fears innocent employers could be hurt for honest mistakes.
“Organized labor contends contractors are erroneously making employees independent contractors in order to escape paying workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance and other related taxes. Unfortunately, the reporting comes with a debarment clause that could put many contractors, which make honest mistakes, out of business,” she said.
House Bill 2649 makes changes to Illinois’ Employee Classification Law and requires hearings for those employers accused of wrongly classifying workers as independent contractors. As with HB 923, proponents argue employers are attempting to evade payroll taxes. But again, the measure was crafted to offer an exemption only to union employers.
House Bill 3223, which requires additional employee information to meet certified payroll requirements under the Prevailing Wage Act, could result in ending an employer’s ability to secure future state work merely for paperwork mistakes, according to Clark-Maisch.
“The new requirements are troublesome not only for the sheer amount of extra work, but the likelihood that mistakes could be made. Mistakes under the Prevailing Wage law are costly. Two violations in five years and a contractor is barred from state work, potentially taking away someone’s livelihood and the jobs they create,” she said.