OAK BROOK – U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, spoke to local business owners Aug. 6 at the Hilton Oak Brook Hills Resort Hotel about tax reform, workforce development, and international issues facing businesses.
The Illinois legislators fielded questions that audience members had submitted prior to the event, which a moderator read aloud.
Here are the four main talking points from the Aug. 6 roundtable discussion.
1.) Regulatory Reform
“The tax code, in it’s entirety, is a disaster,” Roskam said.
He then explained that he thinks about an imaginary couple whenever considering tax reform. The imaginary couple is filing their taxes the weekend before tax day and while filling out forms, there are two things going through their mind.
“On the one hand, they’re thinking to themselves ‘Well, there’s probably $1,500 that we’re paying too much, and if we only knew what it was, we would be able to get the benefit of that $1,500,’” Roskam said.
On the other hand, he said people are turning their taxes in to the IRS under penalty of perjury — on the hook for back taxes, interest and penalties.
“That’s messed up,” he said.
Accordingly, Roskam explained there is a lot of work to do.
“I’m not here pumping sunshine, telling you that tax reform is an easy thing to do,” he said.
2.) Workforce development
They discussed the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which has been signed into law and was voted for by both Roskam and Kirk.
The law creates various job training programs that provide for further adult education, they said.
Roskam added that the law was designed to align necessary workplace skills with marketplace demands.
“I’ve noticed how well DuPage County does," he said. "They are the best in Illinois at doing local county based development."
He said he hoped all employers will be able come into an area and rapidly hire people.
3.) GOP Senate
Both legislators also discussed the likelihood of the Republican party seizing control of the Senate in the November election.
“[There’s] an 82 percent chance of the Republicans taking control of the Senate,” Kirk said.
“I think it’s more likely true than not true,” Roskam said. “I think that that’s a strong possibility.”
If that happened, Roskam said the next step would be interesting.
He explained that the next GOP majority leader would likely sit down with the White House Chief of Staff and discuss a list of things that need to be done by the White House before the Senate will move forward with helping out with the president’s agenda.
“And the irony is, the list is long," Roskam said. "It’s a log of things that the administration has done on the president’s own and the president’s pen, and if the president can turn those things on from a regulatory point of view, he can also turn those things off.”
4.) Other issues
The legislators also talked about furthering sanctions on Russia and health care, including their desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the possibility of peace in the Gaza Strip, how they think the U.S. can prevent Iran’s nuclear program from continuing, and how they are in favor of the construction of the Keystone Pipeline, which would run from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Texas, with part of the pipeline being diverted to Patoka.