Senate Week in Review: Regulations Put Illinois Jobs At Risk
In my last column, I discussed the positive signs in the Illinois economy but also pointed out the state’s lagging job growth. What’s really needed to get the economy going and growing is taking off the shackles of regulations that raise the cost of doing business and act as an obstacle to job creation. These regulations are a “war on work.”
Unfortunately, Illinois is a very politically-divided state. As a result, ideology often wins over real leadership.
Regulation and Reform
Lowering the cost of doing business in Illinois – so entrepreneurs have the resources to invest, expand operations and hire new employees – is vitally important if we want to see economic renewal and revitalization. Changes that can reverse our fortunes include Workers’ Compensation Reform that embraces the all-important “causation” standard. Businesses should pay for injuries and illnesses WHEN AND IF the workplace is the cause of the injury or illness. Other needed changes include repealing regulations that punish non-union employers with laws not imposed on union employers; employers and their employees should be treated equally under the law. Regulations, for example, that put government between the employer and a prospective employee – going so far as to limit interview questions – must end.
Reforms that I would like to see implemented include term limits for state elected officials. Term limits is one of the greatest solutions to address dysfunctional government run by a failed establishment, whether it’s in Washington D.C. or Springfield. We also need to restore fiscal sanity to the state’s budget process. That means the Legislature and Governor must follow the state constitution and only pass truly balanced budgets or, in other words, spending matches revenues. We must also reduce the state’s overall debt by reforming public pensions, keeping them solvent for state employees in the future and affordable for taxpayers, who ultimately pay every single bill.
I’d also like to see a change in the general attitude about business in Springfield. For too long, an overall view promoted at the Capitol is that employers are evil. Job creators are portrayed as out to make as much money as possible and employees be damned. As an employer, I find this “hating on business” premise offensive. Springfield imposes all kinds of regulations and rules on business – burden upon burden – and then righteously claims their imposition is on behalf of the worker. In reality, government very seldom lifts a finger to reduce burdens that ultimately hamper opportunity and prosperity for the very workers ideology-driven politicians claim they support. There is a quote I heard once, “I never worked for a poor man.” Without the employer we can’t have the employee.
Taking into consideration Illinois’ high unemployment and nation-leading out-migration of its citizens, Illinois’ economic performance over the past ten-plus years shows that state government practices and policies are on the wrong track.
The Right Direction
On Friday, August 3 legislation was signed into law that will be a helpful step in understanding the cost of government regulation and red tape on the largest segment of our economy: small business.
House Bill 5253
, which I supported this year, requires State agencies to issue an economic impact analysis when proposing new rules or amendments to rules that affect small businesses. Each analysis would be required to assess regulatory impacts on hiring, purchasing, insurance, licensing fees, record keeping, compensation and benefits, and several other important aspects to running a small business.
The new law also requires State agencies to include their findings as part of their regulatory and rulemaking filings. The information is also required to be made public.
Small businesses are the backbone of our state and national economy. According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), small businesses represent 99 percent of all employer firms in the United States; they employ about half of all private-sector employees; and, generate 63 percent to 80 percent of net new jobs each year.
The Wrong Direction
Legislation that is still waiting for action by the Governor goes to the heart of what I mentioned previously – the attitude that employers are out to make as much money as possible and employees be damned.
House Bill 4572
, which I opposed during a Senate vote this spring, would subject small businesses of 15 employees or less to the state’s rules on workplace discrimination. While it sounds like the proper thing to do, such a law would impose costly litigation on businesses unable to afford the legal costs. What about frivolous lawsuits? Small businesses least able to defend themselves would be at risk of failure from just one accusation, which could cost thousands of dollars to defend their innocence.
Small business employers, like myself, want happy employees. I want an employee who likes coming to work. That employee is more productive and helps make my business more successful. At my business, employees are family. The jobs I provide help my employees take care of their families. That’s a great responsibility for an employer.
Unfortunately, there have been numerous new and costly rules and regulations passed in Illinois during the past 15 years. As I have previously reported in this column, Illinois continues to trail most other states in job creation. Given the overregulation and overtaxation, lagging job creation is not a surprise. As previously stated, ideology plays a huge role in the decision-making at the Capitol. And, there seems to be no end to the amount of regulation Springfield can pass. That is not the way to create prosperity and opportunity for Illinois working families.
“In some dim beginning, man created the institution of government as a convenience for himself. And ever since that time, government has been doing its best to become an inconvenience.”
— President Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004); 40th President of the United States; Speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, September 24, 1972.