Public Policy Newsletter
|Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Stopgap funding bill. Tourism. The sharing economy. Paid sick leave. We’ve covered a lot of ground lately.
State of Illinois
Stopgap Measure Passed by Illinois General Assembly
A six-month budget solution was agreed to by the Governor and Illinois legislative leaders on June 30. The Chicagoland Chamber worked with our partners in business and through our Public Policy Committee and Tax Policy Forum to advocate for a balanced budget, including appropriate revenues and economic reforms needed to drive economic growth and ensure our region and state remain competitive. While we didn’t accomplish that in this session, we remain an active voices supporting much needed economic reforms and a balanced budget.
The stopgap budget is designed to fund state operations, road and transportation projects, and higher education and K-12, including funds for the Chicago public schools, until January 1, 2017. The budget contained no economic reforms, and pushes off the true “cost” of the over year-long budget impasse to after the general election on November 8.
The stopgap contains capital funds for the Illinois Department of Transportation road and other infrastructure projects ($13.4 billion), general services and operations, human services, higher education (including FY 2016 payments), elementary and secondary education.
The education funding bill addresses statewide shortfalls as well as issues specific to the Chicago Public Schools. The school package for CPS includes: $105 million in equity grant funding; $225 million in a one-year state pick-up of pension payments; and authority to raise property taxes by $250 million. The state pickup of the pension payment is contingent on the General Assembly passing pension reform by January. The property tax levy requires action by the Chicago Public Schools Board and is not subject to the property tax cap. The Chicago Teachers Union contract is still in negotiations. We don’t expect any more action until after the Fall elections.
TIF Permit for Red Line Improvements
Interestingly, an omnibus Tax Increment Financing (TIF) bill passed permitting the City of Chicago to establish a rapid transit TIF in order to access matching federal funds for, among other projects, the Red Line “L” improvements. This is significant for our members whose business are located on and whose employees rely on the Red Line in neighborhoods from the south to the north side of Chicago.
Full Tourism Funding
And some good news – the Illinois Office of Tourism and Choose Chicago received full funding in the stopgap budget, plus an 11 percent increase. This will allow tourism agencies and partners to extend programs and advertising driving visitors to Chicago, more tax revenue, and support for hospitality jobs. The Chamber is on record supporting this funding.
City of Chicago and Cook County
CAFRs released by City and Cook County
The City of Chicago and Cook County released their respective Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR). President Preckwinkle sat down with Chicago Tonight to discuss the upcoming County budget, and its $174 million deficit; while a recent Crain’s article highlights the City’s upcoming challenges.
The Chamber conducts regular meetings with City and County officials to share ideas, understand the challenges, and to ensure that the business community is not again shouldering the cost of the fiscal challenges. A key message point for us is that the business community cannot be relied upon to pay the bulk of the costs while the City and County pass expensive mandates, such as the recently passed paid sick leave and the recently automatically increased minimum wage.
Paid Sick Leave Update
On June 22, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance mandating employers provide paid sick leave as a benefit to all employees. Michael Reever, the Chamber Vice President of Government Affairs, presented opposition testimony to the Committee on Workforce Development and Audit. Click here to see his testimony. The Chamber met with nearly 40 aldermen in the months preceding the vote to discuss this ordinance and share our concerns. The Chamber is working with our business partners and members to amend this ordinance. See Michael’s interview on Politics Tonight here, which explains the position of the Chamber.
In brief, the paid sick leave ordinance will do the following:
- The ordinance applies to all employees that work at least 80 hours within a 120-day period, and all private employers are covered
- Employees accrue at a rate of 1 hour for every 40 hours worked to accrue up to 40 hours in a benefit year; start accruing on the first calendar day after the commencement of employment
- Up to 20 hours can be carried over per benefit year by all employees
- Employers covered by FMLA must allow employees to carry over 40 hours to use concurrently with FMLA
- Effective July 1, 2017
The Chamber continues to seek and advocate for changes with the City that will allow for our members and the broader business community, especially in the restaurant, hospitality, and retail sectors to implement this ordinance in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. We will continue to provide updates on this issue.
Ridesharing and Home-Sharing Ordinances Passes City Council
On June 22, the City Council passed a ridesharing ordinance that would require Uber and Lyft drivers to acquire a chauffeur’s license; provide an accelerate done-day training program; and establish a study period for addressing disabled accessibility and fingerprinting. The Chamber lobbied for the compromise because the original ordinance was far too punitive toward “ridesharing” companies. The Chamber acknowledges that the sharing economy is integral to our culture and provides thousands with supplemental income.
In addition, a home-sharing ordinance was passed which seeks to level the playing field between the “digital” hotels that were competing with traditional hotels and motels.
More Updates from the City and County
On July 1, the City’s minimum wage increased from $10/hr. to $10.50/hr. The Chamber opposed the Chicago-only minimum wage because it creates an uncompetitive environment for city-based businesses that compete with surrounding suburbs and states.
On August 1, the next phase of the City’s plastic bag “ban” goes into effect which impacts stores with less than 10,000 sq. ft. The stores that will be most impacted are primarily gas stations and convenience stores but includes small neighborhood retailers as well. In April 2014, the Chicago City Council approved an ordinance that “bans” certain types of plastic bags, which was implemented last August for stores with three or more locations which are 10,000 sq. ft. or more.
On June 29, two paid sick leave ordinances were introduced at the Cook County Board of Commissioners meeting. Commissioner Gainer introduced an ordinance, which essentially shadows the ordinance passed by the Chicago City Council calling for 40 hours of paid leave for all employees. Commissioner Garcia and Commissioner Arroyo introduced a skeletal ordinance for discussion. Both ordinances are held in the Finance Committee.
The Chamber is engaged in conversations with Commissioners and the President’s Office. We are stressing that a “patchwork” approach to mandating employee benefits puts Chicagoland employers at a competitive disadvantage. In addition, we remind everyone that costly mandates layered with new taxes to cover legacy debt and ongoing government operations creates an environment that discourages economic growth and new jobs—especially in areas that need it most.
Chamber in the News
Craig Dellimore, political editor of WBBM radio, interviewed Theresa E. Mintle, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber, about the business political climate in the city and state, for the June 26 “At Issue” program.
Michael Reever, Vice President of Government Affairs, on Politics Tonight discussing the Paid Sick Leave ordinance.
The Chamber was also mentioned in these media stories concerning paid sick leave:
- Chicago Tribune: “Paid sick leave proposal passes City Council committee”
- Chicago Sun-Times: “To cheers of workers, aldermen approve sick day mandate”
- CBS Chicago: “Chicago Sick-Pay Mandate Advances In City Council”
- Progress Illinois: “Chicago Workers Cheer Committee Passage Of Paid Sick Time Ordinance”
- DNA Info: “Plan To Give All Workers Paid Sick Leave Gets Initial OK From Aldermen”
- The Daily Line: “Stakeholders: County Paid Sick Leave Won’t Move This Month”
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.