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State Reps Halbrook, Miller call on Pritzker to propose plans to bring businesses back online



Download-1Download-3SHELBYVILLE – The shutdown of small businesses throughout Illinois is creating panic and uncertainty and State Representatives Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) and Chris Miller (R-Oakland) say Governor JB Pritzker needs to present a plan for bringing businesses back online.  (Halbrook (r) Miller (l) in photos) 

The two downstate lawmakers said in a statement Friday, “When this crisis first emerged, there was a great deal of uncertainty. We did not know how widespread this disease would be and we did not know what parts of the country would be the most affected. It made sense at the time to shutdown large gatherings and to ask people to stay home.

"Every day we are learning more about the virus and we are seeing trends in certain parts of the country where the disease seems to be the most prevalent. What is needed is a plan for how to bring our economy back. The vast majority of the cases in Illinois appear to be in the Chicago region. The less densely populated areas are simply not as affected as the more densely populated regions of our state," they said.

Halbrook and Miller said that while it made sense initially to treat every part of the state the same, those blanket policies are not the best approach moving forward.

"We need a plan to bring businesses online and that plan needs to allow more flexibility for regions of the state not as impacted by coronavirus," they said. "Most importantly, we need target dates to help our local businesses. Understandably, these dates might change but it is very important to our local businesses to know that there is an end in sight. People’s lives are being upended and the longer these shutdowns go on, the higher probability there will be no job for many people when this is all over."

It is imperative that we give employers some assurances that we have their back. Some specific ideas include:

  1. Freeze Unemployment insurance rates for 12 months and provide assurance that rates don’t reflect claims due to corona virus shutdowns and layoffs
  2. Freeze the minimum wage for the next 18 months, which is currently set to go up to $10 per hour on July 1st
  3. Return the light trailer license fee back to $18 from $118
  4. Sales tax holiday for the entire duration of any work restriction or stay at home order
  5. Prorated abatement of property taxes across the board equal to number of days of work restriction or stay at home order

Then, Halbrook and Miller's request included a change on the 2020 November election ballot that would dramatically change the state's constitution:

"…We are calling on Gov. Pritzker and our colleagues in the House and the Senate to suspend the upcoming vote on the progressive income tax ballot question," they said. "The last thing our businesses need is a massive tax increase after being shut down through no fault of their own."

They also called on the Governor to issue a statement promising to veto any legislation allowing the Chicagoland three cents per gallon tax on motor fuel for infrastructure to be applied statewide.

Last, they asked Gov. Pritzker to leave gun stores open and to make it clear that local municipalities cannot and should not make those determinations on their own. "The people of Illinois should have the right to defend themselves during a time of crisis. These stores should remain open," they said.

"We will get through these difficult times," the statement concluded. "Generally, people have respected the wishes of health officials and are willing to do their part to stop the spread of this disease, but the population cannot live like this indefinitely. We need a plan and we need dates – even if those dates get moved – to give business owners a reasonable assurance that they will still have a business to run. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and we need to make these businesses a priority."


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