Springfield Legislative Update
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce was present in Springfield monitoring a variety of different legislative items during last week’s veto session.
Senate Bill 2814, the “Future Energy Jobs Bill” passed both the House (63-38) and the Senate (32-18) on Thursday, December 1; and, is expected to be signed by the Governor in the coming days. This legislation provided energy subsidies for “clean energy providers,” including for two downstate nuclear power plants, fixed the State’s broken Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), and greatly expanded the State’s energy efficiency programs. The Chicagoland Chamber did not take a position on the bill, and remained neutral.
Two City of Chicago items also were front and center. The first, Senate Bill 2822, the Chicago Teachers Pension Payment to be paid by the State worth $215 million was vetoed on December 1. The veto puts a $215 million hole in the Chicago Public Schools’ budget during this school year. The veto was overridden by the Illinois Senate 36-16-2, but it appears unlikely that the House will take up the consideration of an override within the required 15 days. It is unknown what steps will be taken to fix the budget deficit that now exists because of the veto.
The second, Senate Bill 2437, the Chicago Municipal and Laborers Pension changes passed the House 91-16, and is expected to be taken up by the Senate in January during the “lame-duck” session scheduled on January 9, 2017. It increases the retirement age for persons who first become participants on or after the effective date of the act and increases their contributions from 8.5 percent to 11.5 percent. It also provides a five-year ramp payment schedule at a lower rate of actuarial return. In combination with the recent increase in the City tax on water and sewer bills, this legislation is designed to forestall projected insolvency of this pension system by 2025.
City of Chicago Budget
In November, the Chicago City Council unanimously passed the Mayor’s $8.2 billion 2017 fiscal year budget. This budget cycle, Mayor Emanuel announced a $137.6 million budget deficit, the City’s lowest since 2007. Notably, in September prior to the budget, new water and sewer fees totaling $239 million by 2020 and 2021 were increased to pay for the municipal and laborer employees’ pension fund. While the Chamber understands new and dedicated revenues are needed to properly fund the City’s long-standing pension obligations, we caution that new revenue isn’t the only option. The Chamber emphasizes that the impact of layers of new taxes and labor mandates erect obstacles to owning and growing a business in Chicago. A couple of fee increases to note: the application of a 3.5 percent amusement tax to the full resale price of all concert, sports, and theater events; and the $.07 fee on disposable bags, replacing the city ban on plastic bags.
Cook County Budget
In November, the Cook County Board passed President Preckwinkle’s 2017 fiscal year budget proposal by a vote of 12-5, with Commissioners Goslin, Fritchey, Suffredin, Schneider, and Morrison voting “no.” The County budget includes a $.01 per fluid ounce tax on sweetened beverages, containing sugar or artificial sweetener such as carbonated soft drinks, fruit beverages, sports drinks and energy drinks. The Chicagoland Chamber opposed this tax. The sweetened beverage industry has a significant positive economic impact in Illinois, providing more than 9,475 good-paying jobs, $819.5 million in wages, and $1.5 billion in state and federal taxes every year. More than 3,000 Cook County businesses work with the industry and more than $4 billion is spent annually in Cook County with suppliers and vendors. The Chicagoland Chamber still believes that the County needs to focus on reducing the growth of the cost of government instead of continuing to tax the businesses that support our economy.
Seeking Input- 2017 Chamber Legislative Agenda
The Chicagoland Chamber is seeking feedback from members on what to incorporate into its 2017 legislative agenda. These are actionable items that the Chamber will pursue in the upcoming year. If you have thoughts or ideas on the policies we should pursue, please email me directly at email@example.com.
Chicagoland Chamber PAC- 2017 Advocacy Champion Award Ceremony and Luncheon
The 2017 Chicagoland Chamber PAC Advocacy Champion honoree is Bob Crawford, Jr., founder and retired CEO and Chairman, of Brook Furniture Rental. At this luncheon, we will be honoring Bob’s advocacy of the business community and supporting the growth of our political action committee. Our PAC is a critical tool in advancing the interests of the business community by supporting and electing “pro-business” elected officials. This year’s luncheon will be at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on Friday, February 24, 2017 with registration and networking beginning at 11:30 a.m., and luncheon beginning at noon.
Thank you to our platinum sponsors: CNA Insurance and Target. Sponsorship opportunities available.
Chamber In the News
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce remains focused on our mission to serve our members by supporting pro-business policies that foster a more competitive economic climate for our region and Illinois. Our government relations team works with elected officials at every level of government on both sides of the aisle to protect our member interests. We are working every day at the City, County, and State level of government to serve you.
About the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce represents over 1,000 member companies, their 400,000 employees, and over $24 billion in revenue. We combine the power of our membership with our legacy of leadership and business advocacy to drive a dynamic economy. We focus on delivering value for our members, making Chicagoland a world-class place to live and work. Visit ChicagolandChamber.org.