The Illinois House of Representatives completed their first term of the 2019 session late into the evening on Saturday, June 1st. Lawmakers reached a bipartisan agreement on a number of issues which include a balanced $40.6 billion state budget, six pro-business reforms to help create and keep jobs in the state, the expansion of gaming to include a casino at Fairmount Park Racetrack, sports betting, a capital plan to repair and improve Illinois’ infrastructure, and furthermore, a gas tax increase to help pay for repairs and improvements to local roads and bridges.
“As a republican in the minority, we were successful at preventing several new taxes from becoming law,” said Rep. Meier. “We were successful at negotiating six pro-job reforms, a balanced budget and even negotiated a smaller increase in the gas tax. In fact, what would have happened regardless of my vote was an increase in the gas tax. I wasn’t happy about the gas tax hike, however, I stood strong by blocking the satellite tax, online streaming tax, bag tax, and I voted against the graduated income tax increase.”
Keep in mind, the democrat majority in Illinois have the votes to pass whatever they want, when they want. It takes 60 votes to pass a bill in the House, there are 74 democrats and 44 republicans. The final vote in the House of Representatives which resulted in the overall bipartisan compromise ended up receiving 83 yes votes and 29 no votes, with 20 republicans voting in favor.
This year the democrat majority wanted to create a new tax on satellite television and online streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. The democrat majority also wanted a new tax on plastic bags and a .25 cent per gallon gasoline tax hike. Fortunately, the Republican minority, including State Rep. Charlie Meier were successful at blocking new taxes from becoming law such as the satellite tax, streaming tax, and bag tax, the republicans even negotiated a lower threshold for increasing the gasoline tax at .19 cents per gallon. While at the same time, Rep. Meier and his republican colleagues were successful at negotiating a balanced budget, including reforms to help small businesses and farmers continue to operate in the state.
Illinois’ top business leaders which include the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association thanked Rep. Meier for his support during the 2019 legislative session.
“Businesses need stability and we appreciate State Rep. Charlie Meier for working in a bipartisan fashion to enact a balanced budget and infrastructure program. This will create jobs across Illinois while rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges. Manufacturing is the states’s leading economic engine and this package will cut taxes for businesses while stopping onerous and costly regulations,” said Mark Denzler, President & CEO, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.
The six pro-jobs reforms Rep. Meier and his republican colleagues were successful at obtaining this year despite serving in the minority party include:
- Creation of the Blue Collar Jobs Act – which will attract large scale construction projects.
- Creation of a Data Center Tax Incentive – which will enhance the state’s ability to locate data centers in Illinois by providing tax incentives.
- Reinstatement of the Manufacturer’s Purchase Credit – to encourage further investments in manufacturing in Illinois.
- Elimination of the antiquated Illinois Franchise Tax.
- Elimination of cap on the Retailer’s Discount.
- Tabling of Senate Bill 1407 – a bill that aimed to impose wage and regulatory requirements on refineries, ethanol plants, and chemical facilities.
Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch said, “The condition of Illinois’ roads, bridges and transit systems are in such a state of disrepair that we believe doing nothing will actually be more expensive than investing now, before it is too late. We applaud State Rep. Charlie Meier for supporting a bipartisan program that combines pro-business reforms with revenue that is constitutionally required to fund infrastructure.”
Illinois roads and transit systems have $30 billion in deferred maintenance needs, the last time the state had a capital bill was 2009. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives Illinois a C- on their annual infrastructure report card, including a D for roads and transits.
Rep. Meier added, “Illinois’ roads and bridges are crippling. We can’t grow our economy and create jobs without adequate infrastructure. The fact of the matter is, quite a few of our roads and bridges are not safe. We have major pot holes on I-255, the Jefferson Barracks Bridge had to close for several days and is in desperate need of repair. The entire time in office, I have received calls from constituents concerning the safety of the Germantown bridge, the IL-161 bridge over I-70 and the safety of many other roads. We couldn’t sit back and do nothing as our roads and bridges would continue to put our public safety at risk while at the same time place our infrastructure system at a disadvantage.”
The House of Representatives adjourned their first half of the 101st Illinois General Assembly on Saturday, June 1st. The House is scheduled to return for the fall veto session on Monday, October 28, 2019.