May President's Message
After two legislative trips to Springfield three weeks apart in April, I am now resigned to the likelihood that both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly and first-term Republican Governor Bruce Rauner will not reach a “Grand Bargain” on a state budget until after the next gubernatorial election in November of 2018.
On the other hand, the push by Democratic legislators in both the Senate and House of Representatives to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour may end up on the Governor’s desk in the very near future.
Speaking at the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Business annual Employer Action Day held at The Wyndham Hotel in Springfield on April 26, Gov. Rauner vowed to chamber and business representative from across the state that he would veto a $15 minimum wage. He also stated that he is open to a lesser increase if accompanied by cost-offsetting, pro-business legislation to freeze property taxes, lessen regulations and reform workers’ compensation to include causation.
While Gov. Rauner also reportedly plans to veto any Stop Gap Budget in hopes of securing a budget “Grand Bargain,” it’s unlikely he will since the state-funded colleges and universities won’t have funding for the 2017-18 school year.
Gov. Rauner, who briefly visited Egg Harbor Café in Elmhurst on April 11, also wants to increase state funding for public education and for visitor and tourism, which is one the state’s few growth industries, returning $7 in tax revenue for every $1 invested.
During our April 5 six-chamber trip to Springfield, Republican State Senator Kyle McCarter proposed a balanced budget based on the state’s $31.5 billion revenue projection and incorporating pieces of the Grand Bargain legislative package negotiated by Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno. Sen. McCarter’s proposal balances the state’s budget without an income tax increase or creation of a service tax—each of which could then be debated on their own merit and to determine what programs or services those additional revenues could fund.
On April 24, more than 390 public school district superintendents, including Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205’s Dr. David Moyer, issued a press release urging lawmakers and the Governor to pass a state budget. While Elmhurst’s public schools are funded primarily by local property tax dollars, the state owns District 205 some $3.6 million in reimbursement for busing and for special education.
In the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Ninth Edition of RICHSTATES, POOR STATES, Illinois is ranked 46th in the nation for economic performance based on variables such as income, property, sales and estate taxes, workers’ compensation costs, minimum wage and more. Illinois’ Economic Outlook Rank for 2017 is 43rd versus 40, 48, 48, 48, 44, 47 and 44 dating from 2015 back to 2009, respectively.
Working On The Railroad
On April 10, United States Congressman Mike Quigley (Illinois-5th District), Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley and I toured the Illinois-Railway Suppliers’ new Elmhurst facility and meet with Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA) representatives to discuss Chicago’s manufacturing and rail sector infrastructure needs.
Also, Congressman Quigley, who is a member of the House of Representatives’ Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), is still working with City officials to secure federal transportation funding for Metra to rebuild the antiquated commuter train station in downtown Elmhurst.
GPS: A Tourism Roadmap
Speaking of tourism, I completed my year-long service on the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Strategic Planning Committee by presenting the new plan, titled “GPS: A Tourism Roadmap,” to the organization’s Board of Directors on April 20 for adoption. The plan was then presented to the DuPage County Board at its April 25 meeting.
DCVB representatives recently participated in the United States Travel Association’s Conference, titled “DESTINATION CAPITOL HILL Advocating for local trave1 & tourism at national level,” lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., and the Illinois Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Springfield from March 19-22.
Among those attending was Larry Forssberg, Executive Director of the Westmont Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau and Director of the Westmont Economic Development Partnership, who was a special guest speaker at the April 13 Explore Elmhurst Advisory Committee meeting.
Twelve members are celebrating Chamber anniversaries in April, as follows: 50 years—Edward-Elmhurst Health and Elmhurst College; 45 years—Elmhurst Dental Care; 30 years—Mama Maria’s Pizza and The Pink Elephant Resale Shop; 25 years—Community Bank of Elmhurst, Howard Buick-GMC and Larry Roesch Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram; 10 years—Providence Bank and Servpro of Elmhurst; and 5 years—Accounting HELP! LLC and Elmhurst Heritage Foundation.
The Chamber welcomed seven new members in April, as follows: Artis Senior Living of Elmhurst, Doshi Orthodontics, Eagle Digital Marketing, Hauert Law Office, Keller Williams Premier Properties (Craig Sebert), RTP Sports Medicine & Physical Therapy and Thomas M. Miroballi Sales, LTD.
No Longer Members
The Chamber said goodbye to the following three members in April: Fox Pest Control, LegalShield (Roberson) and M&M Cleaning Services.