From the President’s Desk: The Long Game
On July 6, the Illinois legislature approved a budget over the veto of the Governor. The budget impasse over the past 2 ½ years has done nothing to improve the economic competitiveness of our state, and the political brinksmanship and rhetoric has only gotten worse. The budget is far from ideal because the inability of the Governor and legislature to agree to craft a more thoughtful and comprehensive budget has left many issues unresolved, including: severely needed economic reforms, a decision on the impending education funding reform bill, how to effectively fund our $130 billion pension tab, and a capital program for needed infrastructure improvements. The work of the legislature and Governor is by no means complete, but it appears that hyper-partisan politics will continue to crowd out thoughtful policy as both parties eye the 2018 election cycle.
But, the business community must remain vigilant in its efforts to ensure Illinois and Chicagoland remain competitive, and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce remains committed to effective and thoughtful advocacy.
As evidence, look at what just happened in Cook County with the Sweetened Beverage Tax. Eight months ago, Cook County passed an unnecessary tax that would make a 99-cent, 2-liter bottle of soda cost $1.68 (before other taxes are added on, including the 10.25% sales tax); and to force businesses that sell such beverages to not only pre-pay the tax, but to also reconfigure their inventory, labeling, and checkout systems.
The tax is unnecessary because the County chose to provide raises to employees that it simply could not afford. The Chicagoland Chamber and our allies fought the tax, both before it was approved and after. Ultimately, it’s working. Days before July 1, when the law was to take effect, our friends at the Illinois Retail Merchants Association convinced a judge to delay its implementation, while the overall legality of the law could be examined.
The business community kept fighting. And it won. We’ll continue to play the long game in Chicago and in Springfield.
A B2B note…
This is my first time writing to you as part of the Chamber @Work newsletter, and I’d like to make sure you know two things. First, the work of the Chicagoland Chamber is full speed ahead. We have immense success to build on, and we’re working on your behalf every day. Secondly, I am accessible and accountable to each and every Chamber member. Please feel free to reach out directly to me any time, about any subject. My email address is here. It’d be great to hear from you, and thanks for being a member.
Michael L. Reever, Esq.
Acting President & CEO
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce