has been hard hit by our slowing economy," said Mitchell. "We have
had a tremendous loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs, which has
contributed to higher than average unemployment rates and a decline
in population. Consequently, our schools are receiving less state
aid. Poverty, a lack of quality health care and crumbling
infrastructure are all factors in the plight facing downstate
The House Republican
Task Force on Rural Economic Development held 16 hearings throughout
downstate Illinois during the summer and fall of 2003. The task
force heard testimony from local business and community leaders,
economic developers, and elected officials. As a result of the
feedback received, task force members have introduced the Hope for
the Heartland plan to help reduce the burden placed on Illinois
businesses and municipalities and help change the anti-business
climate in Illinois.
The package includes:
Employ Illinois job renewal program. The legislation enables the
creation of 10 job renewal zones and 10 agricultural zones.
Businesses located in these zones would qualify for state tax
updating infrastructure to attract employers. This would include an
end to road fund diversions and support for needed improvements for
downstate airports and Amtrak.
--Reducing the burden
on employers and communities. Proposals are to repeal the recently
imposed National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System fees on
municipalities and the commercial distribution fee placed on trucks
and to reinstate the sales tax exemption for coal mining machinery.
for crucial agriculture programs. This includes AgriFIRST and the
Illinois Grape and Wine Resources Council.
effectiveness of the Department of Commerce and Economic
Opportunity. Proposals include completion of a management audit,
creation of an Economic Development Advisory Board and making
continued improvements to the state website to help attract new
employers to available sites in Illinois.
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climate is growing in Illinois and hurting economic development and
is resulting in a loss of jobs. The new administration has chosen to
balance the budget on the backs of our families, our communities and
the local businesses that provide jobs," said state Rep. Ron
Stephens, R-Mulberry Grove. "A minimum wage increase, high workers’
compensation rates, tax and fee increases, and the elimination of
job creation and economic development incentives have all
contributed to this anti-business, anti-jobs climate. Adoption of
these initiatives based upon input from local officials, business
leaders and workers across the state will help change that and bring
new jobs back to our communities."
State Rep. Mike Bost,
R-Carbondale, noted that businesses in his area have been
particularly hard hit by the tax and fee increases. "Within months
of these increases going into effect, many of our trucking companies
have already announced that they will either leave Illinois or scrap
previous plans to expand," said Bost. "We need to reverse that
trend. If we want better jobs for our families, we need to help
businesses, not hurt them."
With the anticipated
loss this year of 1,600 jobs at the Maytag refrigerator factory in
Galesburg, state Rep. Don Moffitt, R-Galesburg, said that swift
action is needed to protect existing jobs and create new
opportunities. "Western Illinois University has projected that if
this trend continues, the unemployment rate in this area may rise to
25 percent," he said. "We cannot let that happen. This legislation
sends a clear message that the state of Illinois is working to make
Illinois a good place to do business."
Mitchell concluded by
saying that this package of bills takes a new, aggressive approach
to stimulating the economy. "For Illinois to succeed and prosper, no
part of Illinois can be left behind," Mitchell said.
Members of the House Republican Task
Force on Rural Economic Development are Bill Mitchell, chairman,
R-Forsyth; Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro; Dan Brady, R-Bloomington; Rich
Brauer, R-Petersburg; Shane Cultra, R-Onarga; Roger Eddy, R-Hutsonville;
Jerry Mitchell, R-Sterling; Don Moffitt, R-Galesburg; Rich Myers,
R-Colchester; Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet; Jim Sacia, R-Pecatonica; Ron
Stephens, R-Mulberry Grove; Ron Wait, R-Belvidere; Jim Watson,
R-Jacksonville; and David Winters, R-Shirland.
[News release from
Rep. Bill Mitchell]