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Public Policy Newsletter

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Chicagoland Chamber public policy team is monitoring, supporting and actively opposing several policy issues at all levels of government. Please see important updates below on issues for Cook County, the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois.

Cook County

Minimum Wage

As previously reported, the Chicagoland Chamber is opposed to Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele’s proposed ordinance to increase Cook County’s minimum wage. Click here to view the ordinance.

As proposed, the ordinance would apply to employers with 750 or more employees; increase the minimum wage to $13.75 by 2018; and then index the wage to the Cook County Living Wage hourly rate which is currently set at $14.57 per hour.

If enacted, this ordinance would create a chaotic patchwork of multiple minimum wages throughout the Chicagoland region and State of Illinois. The Chamber believes the minimum wage should be handled at the state level, not in a piecemeal fashion that creates an uneven playing field for employers.

Preckwinkle 10-22-2015 11-49-08 AMAmusement Tax

Also before the Cook County Board is President Toni Preckwinkle’s FY2016 budget. The Chamber opposes an expansion of the amusement tax to cable TV and recreational activities such as bowling, golf and many for-profit sports leagues. As proposed, expansion of this tax would raise an additional $20.25 million from businesses and consumers, in addition to the recently passed $434 million sales tax increase that goes in effect January 1, 2016.

During the sales tax debate in July, the Chamber argued that any potential tax increases and revenue options should have been a part of the regular budget process so as to avoid asking businesses and individuals for more money a second time. The Chamber believes President Preckwinkle and the Cook County Board can find other cuts, rather than requiring citizens to pay an additional $20.25 million in taxes. The Chamber remains opposed to using any additional new taxes to plug the County’s budget hole.

Elise Houren, director of government relations for the Chamber, addressed these issues when she testified on behalf of our members at the Cook County Board public hearing on the FY16 County budget earlier today. Click here to read our statement and click here to read Houren’s testimony.

The next Cook County Board of Commissioners meeting will be held on November 18 at 11 a.m.

City of Chicago

The City of Chicago passed its 2016 budget on Wednesday, October 28. Click here to read the Chamber’s statement on the budget passage.

The spending plan was approved 36-14. The following aldermen voted no: Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward), Susan Sadlowski-Garza (10th Ward), Roberto Maldonado (26th Ward), Jason Ervin (28th Ward), Chris Taliaferro (29th Ward), Milly Santiago (31st Ward), Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward), Deb Mell (33rd Ward), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward), Gilbert Villegas (36th Ward), Anthony Napolitano (41st Ward), Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward), Harry Osterman (48th Ward), and Deb Silverstein (50th Ward).

The revenue ordinance, which included the $588 million property tax increase to fund police and fire pensions, was approved 35-15 with David Moore (17th Ward) joining as a no vote.

The next City Council meeting will be held on November 18 at 10a.m.

State of Illinois

The Chamber continues to oppose Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to double the residential homeowners’ exemption for all homeowners from $7,000 to $14,000. As you read in our previous newsletter, businesses and renters would shoulder more of the property tax burden because of Cook County’s archaic classification system which requires businesses (commercial and industrial property) to pay 2.5 times more than residential homeowners.

The Illinois House and Senate return to Springfield on Tuesday, November 10. Mayor Emanuel’s proposal – Senate Bill 1488 – could be voted on in the Illinois House and sent immediately to the Illinois Senate for a vote. Because the legislation has an immediate effective date, a three-fifths majority vote in each house is required. Incidentally, a three-fifths majority vote in each house is required to override a potential Governor veto.

Michael Reever, vice president of government relations for the Chamber, will be in Springfield on November 10 to work against Senate Bill 1488, along with a statewide coalition of advocates opposed to this plan.

To view an updated fact sheet, click here. Today’s coalition letter being sent to all Illinois General Assembly members opposing Senate Bill 1488 can be found here.

Public Policy Committee and Forums

bradleyOn Monday, November 2, our Tax Policy Forum hosted Illinois House Revenue & Finance Chairman John Bradley and Republican Spokesperson Dave Harris for an invite-only member discussion on the continuing State budget impasse. Representatives Bradley and Harris took questions and provided their insight on the political and policy issues surrounding the budget impasse.

We have two more upcoming policy discussions:

  • November 16, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., at Chamber offices: Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno will discuss the continuing State budget impasse and take member questions. This discussion is invite-only.
  • December 11, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., at Chamber offices: Metropolitan Water Reclamation District President Mariyana T. Spyropoulos will speak with our Environment & Sustainability Forum.

Chamber in the News

November 3 | Crain’s Chicago Business | Preckwinkle may junk proposed amusement tax hike

October 28 | Crain’s Chicago Business | Emanuel gets his huge property tax hike

October 28 | Chicago Tribune | Chicago tax increase spurs bond rally as pension debts lingers

We want to hear from you about any issues that may be of importance to you and your business. Please contact me directly with any questions or concerns at mreever@chicagolandchamber.org or 312-806-1508.


Michael L. Reever, Esq.
Vice President, Government Relations
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

Public Policy Committee

Susan Sher, Vice-Chair, University of Chicago Hospital | Adrian Guerrero, Union Pacific Railroad | Ray Drake, UPS | Anil Anuja, CCJM | Manny Sanchez, Sanchez Hoffman Daniels | Ira Azulay, Immigration Attorneys, LLP | Robin L. Brown, Ingredion Incorporated | Pat Cermak, Wight & Company | Harry Seigle, The Elgin Company | Rick Bodnum, CME Group

Public Policy Division

Michael Reever, Vice President, Government Relations
Elise Houren, Director, Government Relations
Chamber Policy Consultant
Joan Parker
Joan A. Parker Government Affairs

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
The Wrigley Building , 410 North Michigan Ave, Suite 900, Chicago, IL 60611
Telephone: (312) 494 6700
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