There is a big debate in Illinois about when to reopen the economy.
Some people think the reopening should occur sooner than later while others think it is too soon to reopen.
But everyone can agree that the mandated shutdown of our economy has done tremendous harm to families, businesses and our communities. For employers, the shutdown has put the future of their business in doubt as some businesses will not be able to reopen even when they are given the green light to do so.
For employees, the shutdown has cut off their source of income and given them the headache of trying to deal with the Illinois Department of Employment Security to collect the unemployment benefits they are owed.
For state and local governments, the shutdown has meant a substantial reduction in tax revenue.
Reopening the economy is the solution we need to flip the script on the damage this virus has caused. Once our economy is reopened, we need our businesses to not only survive but to thrive.
The best thing Illinois can do for businesses is to do no harm. Businesses do not need the state to help them out, but they do need the state to avoid implementing policies that will lead to further job loss.
In short, we need a moratorium on tax increases and other policies harmful to economic growth.
My colleagues and I have tried to get the Democrat leaders in the House and the Senate to commit to a moratorium on tax increases and unfortunately these requests have been met with silence.
Specifically, we have asked the Governor to back off pushing to implement a progressive income tax in Illinois. Moving to a progressive income tax will hurt businesses and make it even tougher for these businesses to recover once they are reopened.
We also are asking that other tax increase ideas on the table be shelved. One bill (SB 2298) would allow municipalities to tack on an additional 3 cents per gallon tax on motor fuel. Last year, when the General Assembly doubled the motor fuel tax in Illinois (a measure I opposed), the legislation allowed communities in Cook County to add their own 3 cents per gallon tax to motor fuel sales. Senate Bill 2298 would allow communities across the state to enact this tax – not just Cook County communities.
In the long-term what Illinois needs is real reform to solve the very real fiscal problems facing our state. Unfortunately, the Democrat majority has no interest in even debating these reforms. Business owners know help from the State of Illinois is not on the way any time soon but at a minimum it is not asking too much for the Democrat majority to stand down and do no harm to the businesses so vitally important to the state’s economy.
It is time for the leaders in the House and the Senate to give our small business owners the assurance that all tax increases such as Senate Bill 2298 are off the table.