Illinois regulations, taxes strangling small businesses, Rauner argues
Just as you must nurture a maple tree to get it to bear sap, lllinois must help strengthen its small businesses for its economy to grow.
Such was the message of Gov. Bruce Rauner on a quick tour of small businesses recently, including a stop at McLean County's Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup in Shirley. The visit was one of six Rauner made to celebrate National Small Business Week, which ended on May 6.
During his tour, Rauner talked with WJBC TV's Scott Laughlin and Patti Penn.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the Illinois economy,” Rauner said. “Two out of every three new jobs – think about that, two out of every three new jobs – in Illinois and across America are created by small business, and the majority of Illinoisans work for a small business. So, their businesses succeeding and growing is the key to more jobs in Illinois and rising and higher family incomes in Illinois. We need to do everything we can to support them.”
Rauner said that support includes reforms to create a more business-friendly environment and prevent residents and businesses from wanting to leave Illinois. Rauner pointed to the high levels of regulation in the state and the costs that businesses incur in fulfilling regulatory requirements as key to reform.
“We’ve got more regulations, restrictions, filings, fees, red tape and limitations on our businesses than any of the other states in the Midwest,” Rauner said. “We’ve got twice as many regulations on our small businesses as Missouri does, twice as many as Kentucky does, and Indiana has way fewer regulations. That’s the reason Indiana is the No. 1 state where our jobs are moving to.”
Rauner recounted that one of the businesses he visited was trying to expand but kept hitting regulatory road blocks. The company was also having trouble getting approvals to develop parts of its property and facing a cost of $100,000 for an environmental impact statement.
“They were tearing their hair out,” he said. “They said they’ve been trying to grow for two years, and there’s all these layers of bureaucracy, layers of restrictions, that other states just don’t have. They were saying if they weren’t so loyal to Central Illinois they’d be tempted to go over to Indiana or Missouri. It’s just more flexible -- a more business friendly environment over there.”
Rauner also highlighted property taxes as a major problem. Illinois has some of the highest property taxes in the country, which creates a competitive disadvantage for its businesses because they can't direct that money toward growth. Rauner advocates a property tax freeze, as well as consolidation of units of local government.
Workers’ compensation is another target of Rauner's reform aims. He said the current system allows too much leeway in claims and leads to high insurance rates for employers. He said he wants to see the program reformed to better match systems in neighboring states that do not have such astronomical rates.
“That’s what we’re striving to do: Cut the red tape on our regulations and bring down our property taxes so we can grow more jobs and get higher family incomes,” Rauner said.