State Representative Charlie Meier spoke to leaders of the business community at the Highland Chamber of Commerce luncheon held on Monday, July 29. Rep. Meier provided an update on the 2019 legislative session which included several pro-business reforms to help keep and create jobs in Illinois, he also discussed the state budget and the capital program to improve roads and bridges in our region.
Under the leadership of House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Deputy Leader Tom Demmer and Rep. Charlie Meier, House Republicans insisted that key business reforms be included in the budget and capital plan. These reforms will make Illinois a better place to create jobs and grow capital investment and were strongly backed by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and other business groups.
The pro-job reforms Rep. Meier and his republican colleagues were successful at obtaining this year 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.
Plan to Improve Roads and Bridges
Illinois has not had a major capital and infrastructure package since 2009. In the decade that has passed since the last capital program, Illinois’ roads, bridges and building infrastructure has continued to decay, leading to massive capital needs across the state. By 2022, an estimated 5,588 miles of state highways will be in desperate need of repair and over 1,000 bridges will be in less than acceptable condition.
Given the massive list of Illinois’ infrastructure needs, the Governor and General Assembly spent months negotiating a new capital and infrastructure package, named “Rebuild Illinois.” In total, the Rebuild Illinois program includes $45 billion in funding for both buildings and transportation improvement projects.
According to Rep. Charlie Meier, “I voted on this bipartisan plan because we must repair our crippling roads and bridges. 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 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 Illinois General Assembly approved a bipartisan balanced state budget for Fiscal Year 2020 which took effect July 1st of this year and runs through June 30, 2020. The budget totals $40.6 billion, including $1.2 billion to pay down the backlog of unpaid bills and makes the full payment to the state pension systems.