|Thursday, February 16, 2017
From the President’s Desk: Compromise is not a dirty word
Dear Chamber Members and Friends:
The State of Illinois is entering its third year without a budget. Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce members, including non-profit hospitals and universities, Fortune 100 and mid-market companies, and local entrepreneurs, remain uncertain about their prospects to thrive and grow in Chicagoland and Illinois. This sentiment was validated by our recent 2017 Small Business Outlook Survey.
We can all agree that Illinois needs a balanced budget with necessary economic reforms to provide long-term stability and a path for growth for businesses, our people, and our State.
Recently, discussions have centered on the Illinois Senate’s attempts at a bi-partisan “grand-bargain” led by Illinois Senate President John Cullerton and Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno. While the Chamber has voiced its concerns on several items, President Cullerton and Leader Radogno must be applauded and recognized for their transparent and genuine attempts to forge compromise.
The proposal has been constructively criticized by many, while others pretend that we can craft a budget without any revenue or simply believe that compromise is a dirty word. The latter is misguided and disingenuous. The Chicagoland Chamber recognizes the need for revenue, though what those specific sources are in relation to responsible spending levels and the required economic reforms continues to be our most important consideration.
Chicagoland remains strong. A recent bi-partisan report prepared by Moody’s Analytics/Consumer Credit Analytics for the State of Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting & Accountability tells us so. It also tells us we MUST put our fiscal house in order.
Chicagoland is the Midwest’s economic engine. But we cannot sustain Illinois’ economy alone; in fact, just the opposite is true. Without a fiscally strong state, Chicagoland is at risk of losing its edge. We need the talent that comes out of our state universities. We need jobs for people at every skill and education level. We need to ensure that job training and education remains cutting edge and responsive to our work force and the businesses that employ them. We need the diversity of economic sectors found throughout our state to support our dynamic ecosystem, including agriculture and manufacturing. A state capital bill is necessary at a time when the federal government is looking to do a $1 TRILLION infrastructure program. Everything we need to be a strong City and region are the same things the state needs to stem the outflow of people, jobs, and economic activity.
A grand-bargain will come. It must. Illinois cannot survive without a responsible budget and necessary economic reforms. The cost of doing nothing is real and makes the consequences all the more inhibitive and painful from a human and financial cost perspective. The recent Civic Federation FY 2018 Illinois Budget Roadmap provides great insight into the painful and tough choices. The bond rating agencies continue to tell us the same.
The Senate’s plan is just a start. It must have input from the Governor and the Illinois House of Representatives. Compromise will come with the four legislative leaders and Governor working together toward the common goal of passing a balanced budget. This is how democracy works, no matter how frustratingly slow it can sometimes be.
Through it all, the Chicagoland Chamber continues to talk with and maintain working relationships with the Governor and the four legislative leaders. We put our members first. Through our Public Policy Committee, Tax Policy Council, and Council on Logistics and Transportation, we engage with our members every day to advocate without regard to partisan politics. Our agenda is your agenda—everyday, at every level of government.
Theresa E. Mintle
President & CEO
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce