This past week I was honored to discuss three major legislative items at the Metropolis Chamber of Commerce’s monthly meeting.
The topics that I covered included the State’s recent move to a $15/hr minimum wage, the graduated income tax question that will appear on the November 2020 Illinois ballot, and the newly minted recreational cannabis law.
Here’s a quick recap of the highlights of my presentation:
Progressive income tax – Illinois’ voters will decide on November 3, 2020 whether to amend the State’s Constitution to allow for a progressive/graduated income tax system. In the spring of 2019, the Illinois legislature passed the ballot initiative via SJRCA 1, and passed SB 687 that would establish graduated income tax rates.
The Constitutional Amendment question must receive either the approval of 60% of voters voting on the question, or greater than 50% approval from all voters who cast ballots in the election.
If voters approve, the earliest the new tax structure could take effect would be on Jan. 1, 2021.
Under the proposal, the rate would be 4.75 percent for those earning over $10,000 a year and 4.9 percent for those earning up to $100,000 a year. For income up to $250,000, the rate would remain at 4.95 percent.
From there, the rates go up. Individuals making $350,000 would pay a tax rate of 7.75 percent. For income up to $750,000, the rate would increase to 7.85 percent. For income over $750,000, the rate would be 7.99 percent.
$15 Minimum Wage – In February 2019, Illinois became the first state in the Midwest to raise its minimum wage to $15/hr by 2025. Currently, Illinois’ minimum wage is $8.25/hr. Under the new legislation, the minimum wage will increase to $9.25/hr by Jan. 1 2020 and to $10/hr by July 1, 2020. The minimum wage will then increase by $1 per hour each January 1 until reaching $15 in 2025.
The business community opposed the rapid ramp and the one-size-fits-all nature of the legislation. Opponents argued that there should have been a longer phase-in and a regional approach with a lower minimum wage outside the city of Chicago.
Payroll tax credits provided for in the law are supposed to ease the burden for the business community. Some find this problematic and point out that these tax credits are akin to subsidization of the minimum wage by taxpayers.
Recreational Cannabis – Lawmakers passed and Governor Pritzker signed legislation making Illinois the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis for adult use. As of January 1, 2020, adults over 21 will be able to legally purchase cannabis for recreational use from licensed dispensaries across the state.
Illinois residents will be allowed to possess 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, or 500 mg of THC contained in a cannabis infused product. Out of state residents can possess up to half of each of those amounts.
The new law is very complex. It makes significant changes to the criminal justice system, outlines two “waves” for dispensaries, processors, and transport companies to be granted licenses and begin operations, allows for municipalities to “opt-out” or “opt-in” and sets up a system for local government taxation.
Local governments can limit cannabis business establishments (dispensaries and craft growers) in their community by adopting ordinances.
Local and county governments can place a sales tax rate of their own on the sale of cannabis within their jurisdiction of up to 3% each in incorporated areas for local and county governments, and county governments can impose a 3.75% tax in unincorporated areas.
PRESS RELEASE: Windhorst Urges Democrat Legislative Leaders to Embrace Governor’s Proposed Budget Cuts
Metropolis…State Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis) is urging Democrat House and Senate leaders to embrace cuts to state government bureaucracy following the release of a memo from the Governor’s office and the Governor’s office of Management and Budget last week. The memo directs state agencies under the control of the governor to plan for a 6.5 % reduction in budgets for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 and asks for suggestions on which state boards and commissions could be eliminated or consolidated. Illinois currently has 306 different boards and commissions.
“Since taking office, I have repeatedly stated my opposition to further tax increases and skyrocketing government spending,” Windhorst said. “Last week’s news that the governor and his team are taking pro-active steps to cut waste in Illinois state government is encouraging. From passing the largest budget in State history to doubling the gas tax and raising taxes and fees on a multitude of products and services, Illinois’ state legislature put the State on the hook for about $85 billion in spending. That is a staggering number and one that does not match up well with the reality that our citizens are already the highest taxed in the nation, and that Illinois has been losing population by the tens of thousands every year.”
The memo directs agencies to include a scenario in which 6.5 percent of current year funding would go away and are asked to find the savings through operational efficiencies. Windhorst says that beyond the 6.5 percent across-the-board cut, agencies have been asked to examine lists of boards and commissions under their purview, with a stated goal of reducing those numbers by 10 percent.
“The governor’s staff acknowledges in its budget cuts memo that Illinois continues to face significant financial challenges,” Windhorst said. “That is not news to me or to many other Illinois taxpayers. Hopefully this memo is just the beginning of a process that will produce positive results for taxpayers and a limit to the size, scope, and cost of Illinois state government.”
The Illinois legislature returns to Springfield for a two-week Veto Session on October 28th and again in January for the 2nd spring Session of the 101st General Assembly.
Area Behavior Analysts and Mental Health Professionals Meet with State Representatives Severin and Windhorst in Marion
On Tuesday, I joined State Rep. Dave Severin fora meeting with behavior and mental health professionals from across Southern Illinois. The discussion focused on the services that these professionals provide and legislation that the Illinois Association of Behavior Analysts in passing dealing with licensure. These dedicated mental and physical health professionals must meet rigorous classroom and clinical education requirements and obtain a Master’s Degree in order to practice their profession.
These professionals use Applied Behavior Analysis in order to assist developmentally disabled individuals with developing life skills, dealing with brain injuries and disease, and managing behavior disorders. The rage of skills and services deployed by these mental health professionals is truly inspiring.
My office in Harrisburg is open Monday through Friday 8:30-4:30. You can reach me by phone at 618-294-8703 or by emailing Windhorst@ILHousegop.org.