Illinois Highway 120 signDaily Herald - April 21, 2017 | original article

By Mick Zawislak

Communities along Route 120 in central Lake County say the congestion faced by as many as 26,900 drivers every day must be addressed, regardless of whether a proposed Route 53 extension is built.

The state highway is the east-west spine of central Lake County, carrying drivers from Lakemoor to Waukegan. But it is two lanes for much of that length, and long backups occur in various locations during rush hours.

Congestion at off-peak times is a growing problem, and community leaders contend traffic will worsen because of expected development on the corridor's west end.

Although improvements have been tied to the proposed extension of Route 53 north from Lake-Cook Road to Route 120, the plan calls for a bypass of Grayslake, leaving much of the existing highway as is. And given that the idea of an extension has been around since the 1960s, any significant relief for the existing Route 120 corridor is thought to be well down the road, if at all.

With that in mind, officials from Lakemoor, Volo, Round Lake, Round Lake Park, Hainesville and Grayslake began meeting more than a year ago to discuss the challenges and identify priorities for improvements not hitched to the Route 53 plan.

"The (Route 120) corridor itself always gets tied up in the Route 53 project," Grayslake Village Manager Mike Ellis said. "The towns are doing their homework."

Hainesville Mayor Linda Soto said the proposed Route 53 extension and Route 120 improvements need to be addressed.

"It's not one or the other," she said.

"These improvements that we'll be recommending are needed no matter what happens," added Steve Shields, Round Lake's village administrator.

Grayslake contributed about $10,000 for consultant costs. A list of 14 improvement projects, mainly adding turn lanes at intersections, were identified at an estimated cost of $45.5 million.

"Each of those individual projects make sense, are not overreaching and have been needed for 20 years," said state Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake resident whose district includes the corridor.

"There are just improvements all along Route 120 that need to happen. (Route) 53 has held us up for a long time," she said.

The single largest identified project is $16 million to rebuild and add lanes at routes 120 and 83 in Grayslake, where backups are legendary because of a railroad crossing. Building an underpass would cost an additional $15 million.

Because Route 120 is regarded as a single transportation system, any improvement benefits the entire corridor, Soto said.

The suggestions are not intended as a substitute for an eventual bypass, participants say.

"The traffic on the existing (Route) 120 is not really going to get lighter if we do a bypass," said Soto, a Route 53 supporter. "It will just stop getting worse."

The town leaders hope to present a unified front to whatever agencies or entities can provide funding.

Bush said she plans this summer to convene the communities, county and state transportation officials, environmental concerns, road builders and others to get the ball rolling. Funding is a question, but Bush said specific projects need to be identified and developed to the point they are ready to build if and when money becomes available.

Category: In The News

wage gapWHBF 4 News - April 13, 2017 | original article

By Mike Colon

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - One senator wants to expose businesses which hike prices based on gender. It means some businesses could have some explaining to do in the future.

Studies show dry cleaners, hair salons and tailors tend to charge women more for the exact same services as men.

Senator Melinda Bush (D) has proposed a bill requiring businesses to be up front about prices. If asked, they must answer truthfully.

Senator Bush says it's unfair to charge women more while, on average, they are paid less for the same jobs.

According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, women earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men.

The senator, who championed the fight to eliminate the pink tax on feminine hygiene products, says the discrimination must end.

Thanks to her efforts, Illinois became the third state to end the tax of pads and tampons this year. Now, the lawmaker is continuing her mission to end all economic barriers for women in the state of Illinois.

Category: In The News

WCIA 3 News - April 13, 2017 | original article

By Raquel Martin

WCIA 3 story on Pink Ink bill
ILLINOIS--One senator in Springfield wants to expose businesses that hike up their prices based on gender, which means some businesses could have some explaining to do in the future.

Studies show dry cleaners, hair salons and tailors tend to charge women more for the exact same services as men.

Senator Melinda Bush has proposed a bill that will require these businesses to be up front about their prices.If asked they must answer truthfully.

The senator says it's unfair to charge women more while on average they are paid less for the same jobs.

According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research Women earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Senator Bush, who championed the fight to eliminate the pink tax on feminine hygiene products, says the discrimination must end.

Thanks to her efforts Illinois became the third state to end the tax of pads and tampons this year.

Now the lawmaker is continuing her mission to end all economic barriers for women in the state of Illinois.

Category: In The News

Law360 - March 16, 2017 | original article

By Hannah Meisel

Three possible plans for keeping businesses in Illinois with tax credits emerged Thursday in the state's General Assembly, as an earlier program that doled out more than 800 such credits is set to expire by the end of April.

Illinois' current EDGE tax credit — short for Economic Development for a Growing Economy — is set to expire next month after a last-minute extension at the beginning of the year gave it a few more months to live. EDGE was originally adopted in 1999, and the state has approved more than 800 tax credits through 2015, according to the state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

EDGE has been used in a few high-profile cases in recent years, including a successful bid to keep soy giant Archer Daniels-Midland's global headquarters in Illinois and a failed try at keeping the former OfficeMax headquarters in the state after it was acquired by Florida-based Office Depot.

But EDGE has also drawn criticism, as lawmakers from both parties have alleged the program enables businesses to threaten to leave the state if they aren't offered the tax credits they want. Though the administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner has altered the EDGE program to reward businesses for creating new jobs instead of giving tax incentives for keeping existing jobs, a bipartisan consensus has emerged that the program might need a replacement.

DCEO director Sean McCarthy threw his agency's weight behind a proposal known as the THRIVE — Transforming, Helping and Reviving Illinois’ Versatile Economy — Job Creation Tax Credit Act.

"Better for Illinois taxpayers, communities and small businesses," McCarthy testified Thursday.

THRIVE is sponsored by Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry, and Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, a bipartisan team that may help sell the new program to a deeply divided legislature in the midst of a 21-month budget impasse in Illinois. The plan would provide the state with a way to take back funds it may have given to a company that didn’t follow through on its promise to create jobs, along with capping the level of incentives at half of the profit from a new project. With EDGE, the caps are set at 100 percent of profit.

But Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, asked McCarthy why a program for business tax incentives are even necessary, suggesting the state abolish the corporate tax altogether.

“Why should we pick winners and losers in Illinois?" McSweeney asked. "Why not keep tax rates relatively low, look at real tax reform that could result in lower rates? Why actually get into the situation where the government is picking winners and losers? I've never understood why we're sitting here on a Thursday morning talking about legislation that will put the decision-making process into the hands of the government deciding who's going to win and lose?"

A competing plan is sponsored by Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Chicago, who said in committee Thursday that he feels he's under "enormous pressure to get something done" on tax credits.

Zalewski's plan is supported by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and would cap credits at $50 million per year year statewide and limit them to five years for any given project, down from the current 10 years provided for within EDGE.

Instead of employers negotiating a cut in their income tax liability, businesses would receive a cut worth 10 percent of wages of newly hired or retained jobs. Additionally, the tax credit would be even higher if the jobs were located in high-poverty, high-unemployment communities. The credit would be made permanent, rather than having to be renewed every five years.

The third option is simply extending EDGE again, possibly with some tweaks.

Though high-ranking Democrat Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, was the one who pushed for the extension of EDGE in the beginning of the year, she said Thursday that a replacement program should be different going forward.

“If we are going to create special incentives, we want to make sure that there was a reason to do it, not just glad-handing,” she said.

Category: In The News

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