PEORIA, IL – As the state’s budget impasse is about to enter its fifth month, State Sen. Chuck Weaver (R-Peoria) is calling for passing a balanced budget and moving forward on critical reforms needed to boost Illinois’ economy and create more jobs. This comes as Gov. Bruce Rauner announced plans to host a Nov. 18 budget meeting with legislative leaders to help forge a compromise to end the gridlock.
Also during the week, new data on Illinois’ economy gave further proof to the importance of passing pro-jobs, pro-growth legislation.
Budget meeting scheduled Nov. 18
Gov. Rauner announced plans during the week to host a meeting with the four legislative caucus leaders on Nov. 18 in an effort to end the budget impasse. Republicans are calling for a balanced budget and pro-jobs reforms to turn Illinois’ unfriendly business climate and fiscal climate around. These reforms include workers’ compensation reform and term limits for elected officials.
The Governor said an agenda for the Nov. 18 meeting will be circulated prior to the meeting.
Struggling economy causing jobs loss, population drain
Seventeen years have passed since 1998, but one thing has barely changed: the number of jobs in Illinois.
A new report during the week found that total nonfarm employment in Illinois is currently about 5.91 million – the same as it was in July 1998.
By comparison, Illinois’ neighbors have fared much better, even with smaller populations. Over the same time period, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, Iowa gained 128,000 jobs, Indiana gained 150,000, and Wisconsin grew by more than 188,000 – all while Illinois remained flat.
In the past few months, Illinois’ economy has shown troubling signs of heading in the wrong direction. In the last month alone, Illinois lost nearly 7,000 jobs, including 1,800 manufacturing jobs. The state has lost manufacturing jobs in eight of nine months so far this year.
Sadly, the impact won’t take long to see.
According to the latest data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), on average, Illinois is losing one person and $50,000 of taxable income every seven minutes.
Republicans have long argued that a struggling economy leads to the loss of residents and businesses and therefore, loss in tax revenue – and only structural reform of the broken system is going to turn it around and help solve the state’s budget woes.
Rauner: More workers’ comp reforms needed
While a Crain’s report shows the 2011 workers’ compensation reform package is helping to reduce costs for businesses, Senator Weaver says more needs to be done to make Illinois competitive again.
Senate Republicans and Gov. Rauner continues to push for reforms that address causation in the workers’ compensation system. Reform proposals include changes that require an injury claim to be directly related to employment, and one that corrects the current definition of work-related travel.
Illinois still has the seventh-highest workers’ compensation costs in the country, and Gov. Rauner and Republicans continue to push for a reform package that will bring back manufacturing jobs and restore Illinois’ economy.
Illinois number one in pumpkin production
The Land of Lincoln leads the nation in pumpkin production, growing more than 90 percent of the pumpkins in the United States. Nationwide, 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are grown every year.
Those worried a moderate drought this fall would have a major impact on pumpkins can breathe a sigh of relief, as research shows pumpkins thrive in dry conditions. The key reason for this is their long roots are able to capture moisture deep in the ground.
Only a small percentage of Illinois pumpkins become Jack-o’-lanterns and Halloween ornaments – the vast majority (85 percent) are canned at the Libby pumpkin processing plant in Morton, which is known as the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.”