Crawford County's state representative joined a group of Republican lawmakers Tuesday in unveiling a job-creation program for the 98th General Assembly.
"Illinois has been at or near the bottom of states in the Midwest in employment and appeal to job creators," Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Charleston) said. "With this program, we can finally start to turn around the state's battered image and make Illinois a welcoming place for small businesses."
The package is aimed at making Illinois more competitive with neighboring states. It includes reducing startup costs for small businesses, speeding up approval of state permits and licenses, rolling back taxes, making research and development tax credits permanent, implementing workers' compensation reform, and restoring fairness to Illinois' court system.
Specific proposals include adding ethanol and biodiesel as qualified research-and-development activities and decreasing fees for incorporating as a limited liability corporation.
"If we enact these reforms this year we can jump-start our economy and begin to reverse the flow of jobs and business out of Illinois," Halbrook said. "Our communities are hurting because state government is so hostile to businesses and job creators. It doesn't have to be that way."
"We need to be laser-focused on creating an environment in Illinois where residents can find good jobs," said Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego). "For years, we have been fighting for legislation that will improve our economy and we must make it a priority."
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Illinois' unemployment rate as of December 2012 was 8.7 percent, seventh-highest in the nation. Since 2008, Illinois has lost the third-most jobs of any state.
Illinois was also ranked the third-worst state in which to do business by "Chief Executive Magazine" and has the 11th highest tax burden in the nation.
Bills in the package include:
HB 2230, which would reduce the cost of starting a small business by reducing the cost of setting up an LLC by 50 percent.
HB 2892, intended to eliminate "job-killing" administrative policies by creating a panel that would bundle together old, obsolete rules and submit them to the General Assembly for abolition by up-or-down vote.
HB 2891, which would make research and development tax credits permanent and add biodiesel and ethanol research as qualified R&D activities.
HB 107, which would reform workers' compensation reform by establishing a standard (making the workplace primary cause) for determining whether or not an injury occurred at the workplace.
HB 138, which would keep out-of-state lawsuits with no connection to Illinois employers from being filed.
HB 153, to curb the practice of double-dipping (plaintiffs being compensated multiple times from the same defendant, for the same claim/lawsuit).
HB 2890, which would roll back the corporate income tax.
"Small business owners have not recovered from the recession and continue to struggle to keep their doors open," said Kim Clarke Maisch, National Federation of Independent Business state director. "These bills are introduced at an important time as some in Springfield pursue a job-killing minimum wage hike. Small business owners need public policies that help them be successful, not hurt them."