SBAC Meet and Greet: A dialogue with those who wish to occupy our state’s highest elected office

By: Blanca Campos, Advocacy Director of the SBAC

As the March primary nears, Illinois’ gubernatorial candidates are making their rounds. On January 10th, it was the turn of small business owners to speak out. All GOP candidates, with the exception of Bruce Rauner, joined the SBAC and our partners for a candid dialogue about the key issues that impact the small business community in our state. Treasurer Rutherford and Senators Dillard and Brady engaged with our audience and answered questions including those pertaining to economic development, taxes, and LLC fees, amongst others.

The Voice of Small Business Matters

Small businesses significantly impact Illinois’ economy. They represent 98.3 percent of all employers and employ 48.0 percent of the private-sector labor force. Small businesses are crucial to the fiscal condition of the state and numbered 1.2 million in 2010.

The Candidates on the Issues

Small business owners have grown tired of the status quo and are looking for real, common sense, solutions to the problems that plague our state. As small business owners, we have a huge stake in what happens in Springfield. Here is what the candidates had to say about several key issues.

EDGE Tax Credits:  In 2011, Illinois awarded 161 million dollars in special tax breaks to companies threatening to leave Illinois. That same year, income taxes of ordinary folks and the majority of small business owners in Illinois increased by nearly 66%. So, how the state chooses to invests money in the name of economic development directly affects us all.

Senators Brady and Dillard expressed their opinion that tax incentives are an important tool that allows the state to be competitive and attract jobs. They both acknowledged that the program needs to be improved and have better oversight. Senator Dillard and Brady also favored removing the $1 million capital investment requirement (which presently eliminates most small businesses from contention). Treasurer Rutherford expressed reservations about government employees handing out special tax breaks in a way that allows them to pick winners and losers. He also noted that there must be an objective analysis each time an EDGE tax credit is awarded.

On Taxes: As small business owners who significantly impact Illinois’ economy, we need a level and fair playing field when it comes to taxes. Senator Dillard expressed his belief that there is a fairness problem and Illinois tax structure is archaic and illogical. Treasurer Rutherford expressed the need for a fair tax structure in Illinois and Senator Brady hinted that an elimination of the personal income tax might be the answer in Illinois.

On LLC Fees: While the average cost of filing an LLC in other states is less than $200, in Illinois, the fee for filing as an LLC is $500 (the highest in the country). Forming as an LLC is the right choice for many small businesses and our state’s fee structure arbitrarily penalizes small businesses for choosing the best structure for their companies.  

The candidates were in agreement about the need to lower LLC fees in Illinois.

In conclusion, those candidates who wish to occupy our state’s highest elected office, whether Republic or Democrat, should understand the needs of the small business community in our state. As the backbone of this economy, and the cornerstones of our communities, our voice and vote matters. So, when heading out to the polls this March, let’s vote for the candidate who will make Illinois a friendlier place to run a small business and advance policies that benefit all businesses.