There are no two ways about it. Illinois small businesses are in a heap of trouble. As a business owner myself, I know firsthand just how devastating the COVID-19 pandemic has been for Main Street businesses in our state and how state policies have exacerbated the crisis. Over the last year, a far greater percentage
There are no two ways about it. Illinois small businesses are in a heap of trouble.
As a business owner myself, I know firsthand just how devastating the COVID-19 pandemic has been for Main Street businesses in our state and how state policies have exacerbated the crisis.
Over the last year, a far greater percentage of Illinois businesses have shuttered their doors than the national average, while an even greater number of workers have been sent packing to file for unemployment.
In Illinois, business owners have come to know the term “stacked costs” all too well.
They include a wide range of unnecessary and harmful expenses that are required to operate in this state. Simply put, small businesses in Illinois are at a competitive disadvantage when compared to other states, and this has been the case long before the COVID-19 pandemic.
For starters, Illinois lawmakers voted to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2025.
Even though the current labor shortage and rising inflation are already achieving that naturally, politicians are putting the cart before the horse and jeopardizing the survival of businesses lucky enough to have survived this far. Raising the minimum wage on employers who have already been forced to cut back operations or let go of workers could be the final nail in their coffins.
Small businesses are responsible for 60 percent of the net job creation in our state. Now is the worst time to undermine the backbone of our economy.
Another stacked cost business owners are grappling with includes rapidly increasing workplace liability costs.
Illinois’ backwards legal system traps vulnerable small businesses in minor violations as we try our hardest to keep up with constantly changing public health guidelines and other rules and restrictions. Not only do we face the clear and present threat of costly lawsuits, but we must also allocate more and more funds to our respective legal savings to fend off predatory lawsuits.
Because of these costs, businesses are going under, and hardworking Illinoisans are losing their jobs.
The newest proposed stacked cost in Illinois shows just how out-of-touch our elected leaders have become.
Illinois lawmakers have been pushing to subsidize their deficit spending and COVID-19 mismanagement on the very backs of the businesses they forced to remain closed.
In his February budget proposal, Governor Pritzker introduced a whopping 9 new tax increases on the private sector, totaling nearly $1 billion. At a minimum, we could’ve hoped for a little government support and a political “status quo” until life returned to normal, so that we could all get back on our feet. But no.
Lawmakers approved the majority of those tax increases and the Governor signed them into law.
There is no time like the present to kick us while we are down, and these new taxes could crush small businesses and eliminate countless jobs.
While big businesses might be able to afford paying more in stacked costs, many small businesses can’t. New taxes and expenses will stifle income growth for our workers and worsen the unemployment crisis in our state. Instead of businesses bringing workers back and paying them again, the government would rather shore up the costs of its own failed policies.
So how do we move forward now? It should be common sense. The small business community needs our state lawmakers to understand that supporting us is both pro-worker and pro-economy.
We need help, or at a minimum some protection from being hurt. This help requires understanding that we all want to safely get back to work, bring back employees, and begin serving customers again. This will allow small businesses to get back to full strength and continue to provide tax revenues for the state.
I urge Springfield to change course and move forward responsibly to get us out of this pandemic. For the time being, please no more stacked costs.
Zach Oltmanns is an Ogle County Board member and small business owner.