A state representative said Illinois policymakers need to get out of the way to let the economy grow, instead of adding regulations, taxes or fees.
Marquis Energy has shelved plans to invest $500 million to build an ethanol plant in Scott County, the Jacksonville Journal-Courier reported. While U.S. trade uncertainty was a factor, the Hennepin-based company also cited concerns about proposed state legislation.
“Illinois government’s anti-business and high tax policies will require us to pursue company expansions in surrounding states,” Marquis CEO Mark Marquis said in a statement reported by the Courier. “[Senate Bill] 1407 is an example of legislation that will negatively impact our company’s expansion plans – removing our company’s choice in construction contractors we hire and the agreed upon price between the two parties, reducing competition and inflating costs.”
Associated Builders and Contractors of Illinois President Alicia Martin said Senate Bill 1407 could be a slippery slope.
“The one component that we feel is very egregious is the fact that prevailing wages will be required on private work in these refineries and then where would the overreach come next,” Martin said.
Supporters of the legislation have told lawmakers in committee that the measure is about ensuring safety at refineries, and prevailing wage jobs are the safest jobs.
Martin said their workers are safe and such a measure would negatively impact their Community Builders Program.
April Fowlkes from Aurora said the Community Builders Program gave her a chance she couldn’t find elsewhere.
“Trying to get into the union, they weren’t really welcoming, so to speak,” Fowlkes said. “So when I got a chance to break into the construction trades anyway and it didn’t cost me anything I stayed with the company and still made good money.”
The legislation that the Associated Builders and Contractors opposes is supported by various unions and could come up for a vote in the Senate this week.
State Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, said if Illinois lawmakers could just get out of the way of businesses, Illinois’ economy could grow.
“If [majority Democrats] would stop doing political favors for their largest political donors I think that we could actually have an economy that thrives and we wouldn’t have to be talking about tax increases or fee increases or any of those things and we could just grow naturally,” Davidsmeyer said.
Lawmakers are in the final weeks of the legislative session before passing a budget, but that proposed budget from Gov. J.B. Pritzker includes more than $1 billion in new revenue that would come from a variety of new or increased taxes.
Further downstate, another business said it plans to close one of its stores because of another state policy.
State Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Louisville, posted a newspaper clip on his Facebook page that said the Borowiak IGA in Grayville will be closing May 31. That’s the only grocery store in the town, the newspaper clip said.
“With the announcement of the minimum wage increase in Illinois, this has given us absolutely no chance for survival,” Trevor Borowiak, who owns and operates the Borowiak IGA in Grayville, is quoted from a letter he wrote to the Navigator Journal. “For me, this is extremely disappointing, as this was the first store that I purchased on my own before growing to our other locations.”
“I will be fighting for a delay in implementation of the new minimum wage law and ultimately an exclusion of the law for lesser populated counties,” Bailey said on his Facebook page. “Local economies should determine local wages.”
Instead of the push to get low-wage workers a $15 minimum wage, as the state is now poised to do by 2025 under a law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Davidsmeyer said policies should be passed to foster “head-of-household” jobs, 100 of which he said won’t be available with Marquis ditching plans to build a plant in central Illinois.