McGuire tours plant, laments state's high cost of living and loss of workers
Brandi McGuire, the Republican candidate for the District 72 state House seat, toured Gray Machine and Welding recently in Rock Island while discussing the state of manufacturing and business with company founder Hank Gray.
Among the issues that businesses face is the loss of skilled workers, who are seeking greener pastures outside of Illinois.
“I toured one of our long-standing local manufacturers to hear their thoughts about the significant problems they and their employees face due to Illinois’ poor business and economic climate,” McGuire said. “Also, I heard concerns from employees like Chris Brown, who expressed dismay about rising prices and the high cost of health care that he and his family face on a daily basis.”
The high cost of living in Illinois, including property taxes, health insurance and income taxes, continues to drive workers out of the state. In the past 20 years, approximately 1.4 million residents have left the state. The 2007-09 Great Recession exacerbated the exodus as the economy and businesses faltered. Illinois has not recovered as quickly as surrounding states.
The out-migration of workers also affects the state's revenues. When residents leave, their state and local tax revenue goes with them at a rate of nearly $8 billion lost every year in the past few years.
The main reason why residents leave Illinois is jobs. Many businesses facing the state's high taxes and job-stifling business regulations have moved to more business-friendly states. Small businesses cut back on staff or close.
Statewide, the manufacturing sector lost 4,400 jobs in September. In the past year, the sector lost 11,800 jobs statewide. The Davenport-Moline-Rock Island metropolitan area lost 5,900 jobs in all industries between August 2015 and August 2016. The state lost a total of 40,100 jobs in the past year.
McGuire supports structural changes in the budget that would allow spending cuts and public pension reform. The state has not had a balanced budget since 2001 and has operated for more than a year without a full budget. The continuing budget woes affect the state's economic climate. Without full funding of education and other essential services, local municipalities and school districts are forced to turn to increases in property taxes to pay for expenditures.
The current General Assembly failed to pass a full budget in May. While the House passed a $42 billion budget bill, it was $7 billion in the red. The Senate voted it down. In turn, the Senate presented an education budget that would ensure that K-12 schools could open in the fall. The House voted that bill down. The state was left without a budget until the Assembly passed a temporary stopgap budget in late June. The budget ensured funding for education and essential services, but it expires by the end of the year.
If a full budget that addresses the growing backlog of unpaid bills is not passed when the legislature reconvenes, taxpayers face the possibility of income tax increases. State Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger warned that if lawmakers rely on taxes to pay the past-due bills, personal income taxes could more than double, from 3.75 to 8 percent or more. Businesses also would see increases in taxes, which could drive more jobs out of the state.
McGuire and other Republican candidates and legislators support Gov. Bruce Rauner's efforts to implement business-friendly reforms. Reducing and revising business regulations, reforming workers' compensation insurance and lowering taxes would encourage entrepreneurs and businesses to open and expand their operations, supporters have said. More businesses, jobs and workers staying in Illinois would increase revenues and make it easier to avoid raising taxes.
“We are a border community, and we are losing businesses and residents to Iowa on a daily basis," McGuire said. "This has to stop."
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