Mixed news about the economy and jobs, new laws improving Illinois’ business and government climates, and remembering our military heroes are among the action during the week in the Capital City.
Economic Upswing – Illinois Not Fully Participating
Illinois is beginning to feel the effects of a growing national economy, although there is a long way to go to restore full prosperity to the state.
Recent reports indicate the U.S. Gross domestic product (GDP) increased 4.1 percent in the second quarter of this year, and the University of Illinois’ Flash Index climbed to 104.9 in July. The Flash Index measures the Illinois economy based on personal and corporate income tax receipts and retail sales. The July rating is the highest level since a 105 rating in June 2016.
However, much work remains to bring about true recovery in Illinois. Twelve years of economic decline under Democrat legislative leaders, and resistance during the past three years to Republican pro-growth and pro-jobs reforms, has left the state economy far short of its full potential. It’s no surprise that people are attracted to states where opportunity and prosperity are growing.
A recently-released long-distance study by Stevens Worldwide Van Lines indicates more than twice the number of households are moving out of Illinois than moving into the state. The report on 2017 activity shows that while there were nearly 6,500 moves to the Land of Lincoln from elsewhere, there were more than 14,000 moves out of state. Out-migration has been an ongoing trend in Illinois for several years. Illinois had the highest rate of out-migration among the 50 states in 2017, according to a separate United Van Lines study. Since 2008, Illinois has ranked in the top-five states for out-migration.
We will continue to push for reforms to reduce regulations that drive up the cost of doing business, which contribute to making Illinois employers less successful and less able to hire.
A new law could help lead to more opportunity for good-paying manufacturing jobs in Illinois. House Bill 4858 allows local school districts and community colleges to apply for and receive grants for acquiring land, construction of facilities and equipment purchases, dedicated solely for the instruction of occupations in manufacturing.
The grants, under the state’s existing Industrial Development Assistance Law, would be administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Funding could include both state and federal grant dollars.
Illinois lost about 11,000 manufacturing jobs in 2016, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.
However, the Illinois Manufacturers Association indicates an estimated 25,000 production workers will be needed just to keep pace with the rate of “baby boomer” retirements from the workforce. Opportunities may be increasing. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates a 1.3 percent increase in the number of Illinois manufacturing jobs over the past 12 months.
Good Government Reform
Other new laws could help legislative leaders understand the cost of government regulations and “red tape” on small businesses, which are the backbone of our state and national economy.
House Bill 5253 requires state agencies to issue an economic impact analysis when proposing new rules or amendments to rules that affect small businesses. Each analysis would be required to assess regulatory impacts on hiring, purchasing, insurance, licensing fees, record keeping, compensation and benefits, and several other important aspects to running a small business. The new law also requires state agencies to include their findings as part of their regulatory and rulemaking filings. The information is also required to be made public.
According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), small businesses represent 99 percent of all employer firms in the United States; they employ about half of all private-sector employees; and generate 63 percent to 80 percent of net new jobs each year.
Thousands of Illinois veterans who received the Purple Heart during their time in the military were honored August 7 at a special service at the State Capitol. The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) estimates about 5,000 Illinoisans have received the Purple Heart medal for wounds and injuries in connection with their military service. To honor all Purple Heart Recipients, the Capitol Grounds were bathed in purple light the night of August 7.
Each year, for the past four years, Senate Republicans have also hosted a Wall of Remembrance in the State Capitol Rotunda to honor members of the U.S. Military who gave their lives in defense of our nation. The annual display remains in the Rotunda through the July Fourth Independence Day holiday. The tribute features a video display of photographs in memory of fallen soldiers, with a wall decorated with written letters from loved ones.
The IDVA is accepting nominations for its Honor 200 program, recognizing the contributions of veterans in their communities. The Honor 200 program is part of the state’s Bicentennial celebration. Honorees will be announced in September. The IDVA will accept nominations through August 31. For more information, check the “Honor 200” section at the IDVA Web site.