2019 Policy Agenda
The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce
2019 Policy Agenda
The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce is the voice for business in Springfield and Sangamon County and has an obligation to its members to represent their interests to all levels of government and to the public. The Chamber supports laws and ordinances that encourage entrepreneurship, development, job creation and investment. The Chamber opposes public policy that creates unnecessary regulation and/or burden on the business community that will hamper the creation of new jobs and wealth.
Local Policy Agenda
Springfield and Sangamon County must have a consistent, transparent and predictable development process. The Chamber supports:
- Replacing the “Developer’s Agreement” with a fair and equitable solution.
- Policies that impact development, construction and building standards that protect the public interest and safety and do not artificially increase the cost of development.
- Having consistent laws, rules and regulations among the units of local government in Sangamon County.
- A technical review of policies that will streamline the development process.
- A technical review of policies that encourage investment in our urban core and historic structures.
Properly maintaining our infrastructure and transportation system is important to the quality of life and economic growth of our community. Taking money dedicated to infrastructure for short term budget fixes is more expensive in the long term and should be avoided. The Chamber supports:
- A comprehensive multiyear transportation and infrastructure plan that is coordinated among all levels of government.
- Ensuring tax and fees collected for infrastructure improvements are only spent on infrastructure.
- Continued implementation of the Springfield Rail Improvements Project.
- Updating parking meters in the downtown area to utilize technology to create more convenient parking options.
Economic & Local Business Incentives
Springfield & Sangamon County need to be proactive in business retention, expansion and attraction. In order to better compete for jobs, our community must be more aggressive in economic development efforts. The Chamber supports:
- A coordinated, public-private approach to economic development.
- Using tax incentives to help businesses expand, remain or locate in Sangamon County.
- Policies to ensure businesses in Sangamon County get the best opportunity possible to receive local government contracts.
- Enhancing partnerships with Springfield and Sangamon County on joint economic development initiatives.
Local Government Efficiency
The Chamber supports Governments working together to provide services in the most efficient ways possible. The Chamber supports:
- Local governments developing methods for performance measurement and reporting.
- Continued efforts to share services and equipment when appropriate.
- The Sangamon County Board’s effort to further develop the Regional Leadership Council to improve local government efficiency.
- Purchasing agents and administrators working together and reviewing opportunities for joint purchasing agreements.
- A comprehensive review of how Foreign Fire Insurance funds are distributed and spent.
- A centralized emergency dispatch system for Sangamon County outlined in the CEC research.
- Local governments working together on capital projects through coordinated planning, purchasing and financing.
- The consolidation or inter-governmental agreements of fire districts that do not provide fire protection to reduce administrative cost.
- Further efforts, when appropriate, to implement alternative fuel programs for light and heavy duty fleet vehicles.
- Local governments considering alternative parts management systems for their fleet maintenance operations and additional cooperation with local governments creating a “hub-and-spokes” system for further cost effectiveness.
Springfield Secondary Water Supply
Springfield needs to act on securing a secondary water source for our community. Hunter Lake has proven to be the lowest cost, high yield alternative by several studies conducted by professional and technical staff. The Chamber supports Hunter Lake as the City of Springfield and outlying communities’ secondary water source.
State Policy Agenda
State Business Climate
We support and promote a competitive and fair tax climate that encourages entrepreneurship, investment and job creation. The Chamber generally opposes tax increases, particularly when used to increase dollars in the general operating budget. The Chamber supports:
- Reforming the state’s workers’ compensation system that has become too expensive for employers. The State should:
- Require the workplace to be principal cause of injury
- Use AMA guidelines to measure impairment.
- Reforming the state’s legal climate to help prevent lawsuit abuse that increases the cost of doing business for Illinois employers.
- The continuance of previously adopted tax incentives for employers that have a proven track record at creating jobs.
- The State increasing the Estate Tax exemption to match the Federal Estate Tax Exemption and index for inflation, similar to the Federal Estate Tax laws.
Increasing the minimum wage in Illinois will hurt business and job growth and will have a negative effect on our economy. The Chamber opposes any legislation or other government action that would increase minimum wage rates.
State Budget and Finances
The State is still in a fiscal crisis and needs to take action towards addressing the structural budget deficit including unfunded pension liabilities. The Chamber supports implementing a long term strategy towards addressing the structural deficit. The State, at a minimum, must cap spending for several years. Due to inflationary costs, this will require budget cuts. The State should not use manufactured crises such as targeting large cuts at education, social services or the immediate closure of State facilities. The closure of a state facility should be a multi-year budget solution. The Chamber supports:
- Long term budget projections to help stabilize the State’s yearly budget process. The State should implement, at a minimum, a 5 year revenue and expense projection by program, prepared by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.
- An aggressive and fiscally responsible plan to continue to pay down the back-log of unpaid bills that hurt our local businesses, non-profits and local government that includes the continued use of debt restructuring through bonding.
- Using the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability’s revenue projections during the budget process.
- An annual appropriation to fund the Mid-Illinois Medical District.
The State of Illinois must address the underfunding of pensions and future pension costs. The General Assembly must remember that each pension system has its own intricacies and should target reforms in each pension system separately while keeping reforms fair across the five pension systems. The Chamber opposes leaving a pension system out of reform unless necessary for actuarial or legal reasons. The Chamber also opposes shifting the full normal cost to public sector employers and supports a comprehensive solution between the State and the employers. The Chamber supports:
- Prohibiting the State from passing unfunded pension mandates on local governments. State mandates on local government should be funded or should at least be consistent with how the State handles its own pension liabilities.
- Reforming the police and fire pension systems to increase the retirement age as well as years of service time to receive the maximum amount of pension benefits.
- Reforming all pension benefits to be based on an average pay over a set amount of years instead of final pay.
- Legislation requiring pension payments to be a priority right after Bond payments.
- A thorough review of the pension ramp to create an affordable and realistic time table for the 90% funded ratio. Extensions in time frames should be passed onto local police and fire pension funds.
The Chamber opposes overly burdensome regulations and government overreach. The Chamber opposes:
- Government overreach on contract negotiations between two private entities. We believe two private businesses should be able to enter into a mutually agreed upon contract that satisfies both parties without the government dictating terms of the contract.
- Regulations occurring by the rule making process that do not receive public vetting that legislation receives.
- Rules that create new mandates for fire sprinkler systems in new construction.
The way districts are drawn is one of the most important functions of government as this determines how elections will be handled for ten years. Allowing the legislators to draw their own districts has shown electoral consequences of politicians and political parties choosing their voters instead of voters choosing their elected officials. The Chamber supports the ongoing effort to amend the Illinois Constitution and turn the process over to an independent non-partisan panel.
The State of Illinois needs to adequately invest in our transportation network in the most efficient way possible. The State of Illinois in the past has utilized shrinking dollars to bond for maintenance and overlay programs and this should be avoided moving forward. The Chamber supports:
- A plan that provides a framework for increased transportation spending with reliable and sustainable revenue sources that is equitable to all governments.
- Bonding for long-lasting major projects with new revenue.
- Adequate funding for the Springfield Rail Improvements Project.
- Efficient use of taxpayer dollars spent on the 3rd Street corridor.
The FAST Act is the first real multiyear authorization in ten years and provides funding certainty. However, the increase in funding will not keep up with construction costs and will lead to an increase in road miles needing repaired. Additionally, the Act relies on one time funding sources and does not provide sustainable revenues for future transportation funding.
The Chamber supports:
- A plan that provides the framework for increased transportation spending with reliable and sustainable revenue sources that is equitable to all governments.
- A $350 million appropriation annually for the railroad relocation program.
- Efficient use of taxpayer dollars spent on the Springfield Rail Improvements Project.
The current federal tax code is complicated, burdensome and not working for the betterment of our nation. The tax code should be reformed to allow for consistent treatment for all businesses and industries. Any reforms need to be tied to a multi-year plan for deficit reduction and long term spending reform. The Chamber supports:
- Lowering and simplifying the corporate tax rate.
- Measures that encourage multinational corporations to bring capital back to the U.S.
- Continued efforts to reduce the financial burden of the Estate Tax on small businesses and farms.
Healthcare is a growing expense for businesses and governments. Proactive steps need to be taken to reduce healthcare cost. The Chamber supports:
- Revisiting the Medicaid provisions in Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to reduce costs for State governments and allow for additional flexibility to prevent waste, fraud, abuse and other changes that slow down the growth rate of Medicaid.
- Preventing lawsuit abuse to help reduce the cost of healthcare.
- Equal tax benefits for the self-employed.
The Chamber supports local control of Workforce Investment Boards to meet the unique workforce needs of our community. The Chamber opposes consolidating funding into a state block grant. This would consolidate power and funding into the State and away from the local level.
Marketplace Fairness Act
Online retailers have an unfair advantage over brick-and-mortar establishments due to a tax loophole that enables them to bypass collecting state and local sales taxes that retailers with a physical presence must collect. The Chamber supports the concept and creation of a Marketplace Fairness Act that requires online retailers to collect and distribute state and local taxes (to the state and zip code where the order is placed and delivered) as if the product were purchased at a brick-and-mortar location.
The Chamber supports legislation that transforms our immigration system into one that improves our economic competitiveness. The current system is hindering capital investment, business operations and job creation. Immigration reform should include the following priorities:
- Reform our legal immigration system to help meet workforce demand.
- Establish a single, uniform federal employment verification system that all businesses can use.
- Provide a pragmatic opportunity to earn legal status.
- Improve enforcement to protect our borders while facilitating the flow of trade and travel.
The Chamber opposes any changes to the current overtime regulations, including raising the minimum salary level for exempt workers, through administrative rulemaking. Changes in regulations should be handled through the legislative process.