Hundreds of employers fleeing the state and an unemployment rate that still ranks above the national average begs the question, “Are we doing enough to promote job growth in Illinois?”
A recent jobs fair I hosted with House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Rep. Ron Sandack in Willowbrook was very telling of the problems facing Illinois’ jobs climate. Over 500 job seekers and 120 employers attended the three-hour fair in the hopes of finding a job or filling a position.
Illinoisans want to work and businesses want to thrive and grow in our great state. But, we continue to push policies and regulations that stifle small businesses and drive established companies to take up residence in our neighboring states.
In the last two weeks, the Illinois Policy Institute reported that five major Illinois manufacturers (General Mills, Bunge North America, DE-STA-CO, Mitsubishi and an yet-to-be named company) will be moving more than 2,500 jobs out of the state. These moves have unfortunately become the norm in Illinois, as more companies are finding that our neighbors, such as Indiana and Wisconsin, have a significantly lower tax burden and workers’ compensation costs.
Illinois’ poor jobs climate lies at the center of the state’s fiscal problems. As more companies take their jobs across state lines, our tax revenues continue to decrease and more people are added to the state’s welfare rolls.
The budget debate over whether we need to increase revenue or make cuts can be resolved by changing the way we do things here. Illinois has the seventh highest workers’ compensation costs in the nation, due in large part to how the state has structured the system. Currently, if the employment is related at all to the injury, no matter how indirectly, the employee’s injury is compensable. This dramatically drives up costs for Illinois employers.
This year I set out to help Governor Bruce Rauner change the status quo and bring back Illinois jobs. I am sponsoring Gov. Rauner’s five-point workers’ compensation reform plan that restores balance and common sense to the workers’ compensation system, while still protecting injured workers. Sadly, this legislation, along with a series of other reforms introduced by the governor, have yet to be seriously considered by the legislative majority.
The budget and reforms absolutely need to be tied together. By reforming how we do business in Illinois we will entice job creators and ultimately bring in more revenue to fund our core priorities such as education, public safety and essential social services for our most vulnerable citizens.
Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, is the Illinois Senate Republican Leader.