Capitol Report from Senator Craig Wilcox

Republicans Promote Business Agenda in Press Conference

As Illinois’ unfriendly business climate has pushed large companies like Stellantis, Caterpiller, and Boeing to leave the state or significantly reduce their corporate presence, several Senate Republicans promoted a package of business-centered legislation on April 17 that will allow Illinois to improve its economic approach to businesses. The measures seek to help Illinois better compete, create jobs, and boost its economy, and I am a proud co-sponsor of every one of the bills.

During the Capitol press conference, Republican Senators highlighted several policy solutions aimed at attracting and retaining businesses and investing in our communities, including:

Senate Bill 1406: Repeals the franchise tax that includes three different taxes on money used to build a business as opposed to revenue or net worth.

Senate Bill 140Eliminates the Estate Tax for persons dying on or after the effective date, or for transfers made on or after the effective date.

Senate Bill 1810Removes the $100,000 cap on Net Operating Loss deductions to help businesses invest and grow their organizations without losing revenue to the state.

Senate Bill 2140Reduces the filing fee for Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) by 50 percent.

Senate Bill 163Expands a tax credit to fund research and development.

Senate Bill 2075Creates a legacy tax credit for companies headquartered in Illinois and corresponding employee tax credits to support and retain Illinois’ legacy businesses.

Senate Bill 2084Creates the Illinois Innovation Tax Credit.

Most of these proposals work to undo a series of business tax increases pushed through by the Governor and Majority Party when the Pritzker Progressive Income Tax proposal failed in 2021.

Chicago Mayor-Elect Johnson Delivers Speech to General Assembly

On April 19, the Mayor-elect of Chicago gave an address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly to tout his plans for the City of Chicago. In his speech, Mayor-elect Johnson made a lot of promises for programs that will likely be funded by businesses and could lead to the continued exodus of employers that Chicago has seen recently.

While no specific mention was made by Johnson on April 19, he has proposed a series of tax increases in recent months. Those proposals would be a direct hit to job creators that not only employ thousands in the City but also the greater Chicagoland area. One such proposal would implement a hotel tax, which would stifle tourism and make it less attractive for visitors and major trade shows.

Instead of more tax-and-spend policies, Senate Republicans were hoping to hear the Mayor-elect present real, concrete plans and solutions to the crime problem facing Chicago. Rather than announcing how he intends to hold criminals accountable, Johnson glossed over the major issue that continues to receive negative national headlines.

Following the 40-minute speech, I issued the following statement:

“Today the Mayor-Elect outlined an economic agenda that includes historic new costs, but gave no hint of how he will pay for it. I have no doubt he will implement his radical social agenda on the backs of businesses. At a time when we should be welcoming businesses to come to the City, Johnson’s proposals will have the opposite effect and will drive businesses and their employees out. Instead of thinking of new ways to hurt employers, the Mayor-elect would be better off directing his attention on real solutions to the crime problem facing Chicago.

“While Brandon Johnson wants to embrace progressive policies that will drive more businesses and residents out of Chicago and damage the tourism industry, here in McHenry and Western Lake County we support our businesses and recognize their value in our communities. We do everything we can to help our job creators grow and thrive while always keeping an eye on the overall tax burden. Up here in the northernmost suburbs, we have access to the same transportation systems and other infrastructure, so when businesses and residents decide they’ve had enough, I hope they know that McHenry and Lake Counties will welcome them with open arms.”

DCFS Faces Questions During Appropriations Hearing

On April 20, members of a Senate Appropriations Committee had a chance to question officials from the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) on the Department’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024. DCFS funding has increased over the past few years and reflects an increase of $767 million since Fiscal Year 2018.

Despite this increase and the recent request during the Appropriations hearing for even more money, the number of child deaths under the agency’s radar continues to grow each year. From Fiscal Years 2015 to 2018, an average of 100.5 children died per year, while from Fiscal Years 2018 to 2022, that number increased to 129.5 children. In 2022 alone, there were 171 deaths of children who met the criteria for an investigation by DCFS. Of course, here in the McHenry/Lake County region, we will never forget the horrific death of little AJ Freund of Crystal Lake at the hand of his parents four years ago.

Despite widespread demands for change, DCFS has still failed to improve the quality of care for these vulnerable children. Instead, the issue has only worsened over time. And this is not the only issue that DCFS has faced. In the past few years, the Director of DCFS has faced multiple contempt of court charges over child placements and the agency has been accused of mishandling numerous cases. Despite these disturbing trends, the Governor has refused to change the agency’s leadership.

Craig Wilcox

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