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

Capitol buildingNBC 5 Chicago - February 28, 2017 | original article

By Tom Schuba

The Illinois Senate approved portions of its bipartisan “grand bargain” Tuesday, passing a spending bill that would fund the state's beleaguered social service agencies and public colleges through June.

Throughout much of the nearly two-year budget stalemate, Illinois' social service agencies and public colleges and universities have suffered without state funding. The Senate plan, which still requires approval from the Illinois House and Gov. Bruce Rauner, would also fund Monetary Award Program grants for low-income students in the state.

“Today, the Illinois Senate did what the governor and House leaders have failed to do, put the people of Illinois ahead of political games,” state Sen. Melinda Bush said in a statement. “Senators from both parties came together in an effort to end the budget impasse and finally move Illinois forward."

The supplemental funding is part of the Senate’s broader budget plan, which is comprised of a series of interdependent bills. The Senate passed some of those measures Tuesday, including bills to fund Chicago teacher pensions and expand gaming revenues by authorizing six new casinos throughout the state.

However, Senate President John Cullerton’s pension reform bill failed Tuesday for the second time. Cullerton placed the measure on postponed consideration so it can be voted on later, which is important because all the bills in the package need to pass for any to become law.

In addition, the Senate passed bills Tuesday that would reform the state’s procurement process and consolidate local governments. Those measures also await approval from the House and the governor.

During his annual budget address earlier this month, Rauner lauded the Senate plan, which includes a Democrat-favored income tax increase alongside elements of his turnaround agenda.

The Republican said he's open to raising the income tax and expanding the state's sales tax to get the Senate deal done, but claimed it's "not fair" to include a permanent income tax increase with only a temporary property tax freeze. Instead, he encouraged members of the General Assembly to pass a permanent property tax freeze, like the one passed in the House last month.

Despite his newfound flexibility, Rauner noted that he wouldn't support new taxes on food, medicine or retirement income.

The Senate will reconvene in Springfield Wednesday.

Category: In The News

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