STERLING – Illinois needs to do a better job promoting itself to businesses, a state lawmaker said Tuesday.
Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, told a local audience that Illinois has the highest output for goods of any Midwestern state, adding that the state is “by no means raking in money and bringing in businesses.”
“Illinois is not bad for a business climate,” said Smiddy, who spoke at the Illinois Education Association hall in Sterling.
He noted other states have higher corporate income taxes, which makes doing businesses in Illinois more attractive.
Two years ago, Illinois increased its flat income tax by 2 percentage points. That increase is slated to sunset in 2015. Some suggest extending it.
Smiddy said that would be a bad idea.
“We need to keep our promises,” said Smiddy, who represents Whiteside County. “We haven’t been good at that lately.”
State lawmakers are talking about putting a constitutional amendment before voters allowing a graduated income tax, meaning that rates will increase for higher incomes.
Smiddy said he supported letting voters vote on the amendment. While he declined to state his position on the issue, he said the state should consider it.
As for the pension crisis, he informed the audience, mostly made up of teachers, that some meetings of leaders are taking place on the issue. But he said that’s the wrong approach. Rather, he said the state needs to involve all stakeholders.
“If we don’t involve everyone, it’ll go to court,” Smiddy said. “They’ll pass something unconstitutional, and it’ll be tied up in court for several years, kicking the can down the road.”
He said an influx of new members to the state House and Senate will likely change things in Springfield. He said he and others received no help from the state Democratic Party establishment in their elections, so they weren’t beholden to it.
“When they come knocking, we don’t have to say yes,” Smiddy said.
With coming retirements, Smiddy expected leadership changes after the next election. Asked if he were suggesting that longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan needed to go, he said he wasn’t saying that.
On other issues
During a forum at the Illinois Education Association hall in Sterling, State Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale:
• Expressed opposition to mandatory evaluation systems for teachers, saying personalities ultimately would enter the equation, bringing unfair results. He said he has seen instances in which union negotiators end up with unjustified drops in their evaluation scores.
• Called the national No Child Left Behind Act "ridiculous," saying the law hadn't achieved its aims.
• Said the state should close large corporate tax loopholes.