SCHAUMBURG – One major trade association is upset with the governor's COVID-19 recovery plan, demanding answers to 12 questions pertinent to the state's manufacturing industry and calling for public hearings. The Technology & Manufacturing Association, led currently by former State Senator Steve Rauschenberger, called on the Governor to "stop trading in fear" concerning the COVID crisis.
"It is both wrong and cruel to lead the Illinois public to believe that government action can prevent future COVID deaths. It is well past time for the Administration to stop trading in fear, and report statistics in a measured, comparable, and verifiable manner," the association's press statement says. "No other state in America we are aware of is threatening its citizens with police action to limit their freedom of association, assembly and movement until there is an 'effective treatment' or a vaccine."
The TMA, an association of nearly 700 manufacturing companies with more than 30,000 employees in the greater Chicago region called on the Illinois General Assembly to immediately convene and review Governor Pritzker’s plan for reopening Illinois.
"Science and precision engineering are at the heart of modern manufacturing, and with this background, TMA members have significant reservations about the effectiveness and wisdom of the Governor’s Five Phase plan," the group said. "At a minimum, the General Assembly needs to hold public hearings on the plan, and the likely effects of that plan on the citizens of the State of Illinois."
The group proposed questions they said needs to be answered by the Governor’s administration in public hearings before the elected members of the Illinois Legislature:
- Precisely who are the “experts” he refers to that are guiding the Governor’s COVID planning?
Who are the economic advisors that are a part of the Governor’s planning team?
Why is the Administration unwilling or unable to share basic source data for their fatality and case count?
Why is there significant divergence between the Administration’s COVID fatality numbers and those report by the Center for Disease Control?
Will the Governor’s office release the expert reports, documents, and the detailed statistical model they are using for projecting the risk to Illinois citizens?
Is any other state, or any other country planning to extend their police powers until there is a vaccine?
What statutory authority is the Governor acting under that allows him to unilaterally extend his emergency police powers and project them indefinitely?
What has the economic cost to Illinois citizens of the Governor’s emergency actions to date?
What is the daily cost of extending his limited shelter in place?
How many Illinois families are unemployed because of the emergency response?
What is the status of the thousands of Illinois workers trying to claim benefits under the Administration’s backlogged Unemployment system?
How is the State of Illinois going to be able to pay costs already incurred for extraordinary COVID expenses, and the Governor’s plan to stand up a new “tracking” workforce and program?
TMA went on to say "Illinois citizens are suffering from more than just the risk of infection. Nearly one in five Illinois workers is unemployed, negatively impacting them and more than a million families throughout the state. It is past time that there was a public explanation and discussion about the future direction of the State and the freedom of its citizens."
Then they pointed to the source of many of Illinois' COVID deaths: state-regulated nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
"The Governor’s Administration well knows that the single largest group at risk are those who reside in Illinois Department of Public Health licensed and regulated long term care facilities. The IDPH should be regularly reporting on their efforts to secure this most vulnerable population," TMA said.
"It is both wrong and cruel to lead the Illinois public to believe that government action can prevent future COVID deaths. It is well past time for the Administration to stop trading in fear, and report statistics in a measured, comparable, and verifiable manner. No other state in America we are aware of is threatening its citizens with police action to limit their freedom of association, assembly and movement until there is an 'effective treatment' or a vaccine," TMA's statement said.
Illinois borders five other states, has the second largest interstate network in America, is the railhead to the nation, and is home to both O’Hare and Midway airports. "We find it hard to conceive of how Illinois will benefit from extreme response measures that our neighbors in surrounding states do not adopt," the statement said.
"The members of the TMA, and the citizens of Illinois have complied with the Governor’s emergency authority for more than 7 weeks," Rauschenberger said. "We have participated in 'social distancing,' enhanced hand hygiene, moved workers where possible to working from home, and now, wear masks in public. We are “pro” science and accountability. It is time for a thoughtful public review and informed discussion about the future Illinois response to the COVID challenge."
The statement concluded: "All legitimate governments derive their authority from the consent of the governed. The Technology and Manufacturing Association does not consent to the Governor’s planned phased reopening of Illinois and calls for immediate public hearings."
But not all manufacturing association were as bold as TMA in response to Pritzker's plan. The Illinois Manufacturers' Association, which represents the biggest corporate manufacturers that headquarter in Illinois, were more cooperative with their reply.
“Illinois’ economy has been devastated by this pandemic, which has put at risk not just lives but also livelihoods. While many manufacturers across the state have continued operating to produce needed medical products, safe and nutritious food, and equipment for our first responders, others are eager to start production and put people back to work,” said Mark Denzler, president & CEO of the IMA.
“We appreciate Gov. Pritzker’s focus on a plan that puts Illinois on a path to safely re-opening. Manufacturers are ready to unleash their full economic might to help restore our state’s economy.”
Until recently, the Illinois Manufacturers' Association was led by political insider Greg Baise, who some say, would like to run for governor himself in 2022.