|Thursday, June 29, 2017
From the President’s Desk: It’s Not Too Late
The Chicagoland Chamber’s Government Relations team is always in high gear. Much of the work happens in the trenches of federal, state and local policymaking. Though the outcomes affect every one of our 1,100+ members, not all are conscious of the energy and investment that goes into creating and protecting a positive environment for doing business.
But no one is missing the action now.
Three huge policy issues are penetrating the collective consciousness. Even people who typically ignore politics are tuning in. The collective voice of the business community, and your individual voice, can sway the outcomes in a favorable direction. Here’s what happening, and what you can do:
The State Budget
If compromise doesn’t happen quickly, the State of Illinois will enter its third year without a budget. Our backlog of bills is more than $15 billion, which is a threat to businesses and families alike. We are spending more money than we take in. K-12 schools may not open in the fall. Our state risks a “junk” credit rating if no action is taken. Mayor Emanuel, three weeks ago at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting, made a well-received call to action. He challenged our membership to speak up this month and tell Springfield: “Illinois needs a budget. Period.”
It’s not too late. Democrats and Republicans, right now, are negotiating. This is a crucial time to make ourselves heard. Many Chamber members have used the digital platform we set up to contact their state legislators and the governor. If you haven’t used it yet, please do. Click here and follow the brief, easy process.
The Cook County Sweetened Beverage Tax
With Cook County’s penny-per-ounce/pay-it-up-front sweetened beverage tax taking effect this Saturday, just in time for the July 4th weekend, the reality of an ill-conceived, poorly executed cash-grab is hitting businesses like a gut punch and a migraine rolled into one. The tax will make a 99-cent, 2-liter bottle of soda cost $1.68. And that’s before the already-existing sales tax and Chicago beverage tax are added on. Stores are being forced to reconfigure their inventory, labeling, and checkout systems, and also to pre-pay the tax on inventory, before collecting it from customers who are also getting shellacked.
The Chicago Tribune published a useful summary of the effects of the tax. Note the article points out the primary reason for the tax is not health, but rather that the county is spending more money than it has, and prefers higher taxes to living within its means.
Even though the tax is supposed to take effect in two days, again, it’s not too late. The Chamber and other stakeholders have had success pushing back, including having the new rules changed to give businesses more time to figure out administrative implementation. Click here to lend your weight to the ongoing effort to repeal this unnecessary tax.
The Chicago Mandatory Scheduling Ordinance
This ordinance being proposed to the Chicago City Council seeks to regulate businesses on the most granular level; their ability to schedule workers, and adjust schedules, based on business needs and consumer demand. As I told WBBM Newsradio on Wednesday, the ordinance would take flexibility away from every Chicago business, while failing to account for the realities of each individual industry. One-size-fits all won’t do, and government micro-managing of this type, in general, is concerning. We’re on top of this and we’ll stay on top of it.
It’s never too late, and never too early in fact, to speak up for job creators. Let’s keep working together to make sure these discussions end up in favor of a thriving community and economy.
Theresa E. Mintle
President & CEO
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce