Government Affairs Roundup

“Your Timely Roundup of Local, State, and Federal Updates”

Chamber members:

Going to keep this short today as we’re in full New Orleans North mode as we get ready for Friday. See below for a few notes.

If you haven’t already purchased your ticket(s) there is plenty of time to buy, but don’t delay. New Orleans North is just right around the corner this Friday, June 10th. Presale tickets are $10 and come with a chance to win a trip to Harrah’s in New Orleans. Cost jumps to $15 at the door and zero chance to win that trip. It’s a great time if you haven’t attended yet and for those that have, we look forward to seeing you again!!!

*Government Affairs Roundup brought to you by CITGO & Silver Cross Hospital*

Congress returns amid suspense over guns, Jan. 6 hearings

Lawmakers return to Capitol Hill to a one-two punch of high-stakes happenings this week as a bipartisan group of senators continues talks on a potential gun violence package and the Jan. 6 select committee prepares to unveil its findings when primetime hearings get under way on Thursday.

A group of nine senators will resume gun reform talks this week as a string of violence continues across the country, headlined by the tragic shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., Uvalde, Texas and Tulsa, Okla. The latest high profile mass shooting took place over the weekend in Philadelphia, where at least three people were killed and 12 were wounded when a gunman fired into a crowd on tourist-laden South Street. But questions continue to surround what could warrant inclusion in an ultimate package. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said on Sunday that any bill will not include provisions related to “comprehensive” background checks or an assault weapons ban, which some Democrats clamor for (The Hill).

The U.S. dollar’s climb has stalled amid a run of mixed economic data

The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the dollar against a basket of 16 currencies, is around 2% off its May peak and fell 1.1% last month, breaking a steady march that brought the dollar to multidecade highs. The index rose 0.6% last week, breaking a two-week losing streak. While American consumers are still spending money at a rapid pace and employers keep adding jobs—trends that had helped lift the dollar over the past year or so—there have been signs of economic weakness elsewhere, in moderating wage growth, a slowing service sector and a drop in new-home sales. The muddied outlook has made some asset managers wary that the Federal Reserve might have to slow the pace of expected interest-rate increases. That might be welcomed by stock investors, who are acutely aware of the risks that rising rates pose for highly valued shares, but its meaning would be murkier in currency markets.

Americans are deeply pessimistic about the U.S. economy and view the nation as sharply divided over its most important values, according to a new Wall Street Journal-NORC Poll.

More Economy Talk

Did you know that the U.S. hiked tariffs on nearly $400 billion of imported goods in 2018 and 2019, and nearly all of them are still in place? As we enter into summertime, basic essentials like sunscreen, beach toys and swimwear are more expensive than ever.

As inflation continues to chip away at the buying power of American families, lowering or eliminating tariffs on many products would give Americans and businesses more financial flexibility going into the summer months.

Pritzker struts fiscal progress in chamber speech, but leaves out a few things

Slamming “naysayers,” “pessimists” and “carnival barkers” who always talk trash about the state, Gov. J.B. Pritzker today laid out the business case for electing him to another four-year term in a speech to the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

Pritzker, who received a polite but less than enthusiastic reception, rattled off a long string of economic and fiscal accomplishments that he said have put the state on the right track after COVID-19 and “pulled the rug out from the naysayers and pessimists who have built a career on badmouthing our state.”

Lawmakers just passed the fourth balanced budget in a row under his leadership, paying off $17 billion in bills left behind by former Gov. Bruce Rauner and shortening the state’s bill payment cycle to just two weeks, he said. The state has restocked its rainy-day fund with $1 billion, put another $1 billion toward old group health insurance debt and given taxpayers $1.8 billion in tax relief, he added. He cited these as reasons why, in his view, Wall Street rating agencies have given the state six credit upgrades after nine cuts in the Rauner years.

Illinois’ gross state product is now growing faster than it was before the pandemic, has the greatest growth in small business startups of any large state and gained people—not lost them—in the last decade, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Pritzker, a former venture capitalist who specialized in tech investments, said state progress in that field “gets my blood moving.” He noted, among other things, a new investment tax credit for data farms that has been successful, pulling in $8 billion in private investments, and other credits to incentivize electric vehicle producers and suppliers—a promising move but one which has not yet produced results.

Only at the end did the Democratic incumbent touch on a raging crime problem, especially in Chicago, which has business leaders concerned. “We continue to need to address our challenges,” he said. Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce CEO Jack Lavin was more explicit.

In remarks after Pritzker left the stage, he praised the fiscal accomplishments but said “everyone is talking” about crime woes and the impact on the state’s ability to attract new jobs and growth. He also emphasized the impact of high property taxes, which have continued to rise during Pritzker’s tenure.

Neither Pritzker nor Lavin mentioned the fact that Illinois’s unemployment rate remains about a percentage point higher than the national average, that its job growth has trailed most other states and that there is still a huge hole in the state’s unemployment trust fund, despite a recent move to shore it up with $2.7 billion in federal COVID relief funds. And though Pritzker noted that unfunded liability dipped in the state’s pension funds last year, many fiscal experts expect it to soon grow again from its current $130 billion level.

Session Update: Fall Veto Session Calendar Released for Illinois

Last week the General Assembly released their Veto Schedule. Lawmakers will be back in Springfield Tuesday, November 15- Thursday, November 17 as well as November 29-December 1.

Verizon’s Small Business Digital Ready $10k small business grant

Verizon Small Business Digital Ready is committed to helping small businesses grow. It’s why we are partnering with this program to arm businesses just like yours with the tools and resources needed to thrive in today’s digital economy. By joining this free platform, you’ll not only get access to courses, live coaching sessions, and invaluable learning materials, but can also qualify to apply for an exclusive pool of $10,000 small business grants.

To unlock the application for the current round of grant funding, register on Verizon Small Business Digital Ready, complete two courses or live coaching events, and apply by June 30, 2022.

Infrastructure Bill Preparation Program

The Illinois PTAC and Illinois SBA District Office have joined forces to develop a groundbreaking program to prepare companies for Infrastructure Bill contracts. The Infrastructure Bill was signed into law by the Biden Administration and will provide unprecedented financing for our nation’s infrastructure. Illinois will receive a substantial portion of this bill’s contracting dollars.

  1. Building Capability Statements for the Government Market – (6/15/22 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM)  – Registration
  2. Government Proposal Writing – (6/22/22 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM)  – Registration
  3. Government Marketing Plan – (6/29/22 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM) – Registration

Stay well,

Mike Paone
Executive Vice President
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry
815.727.5371 main
815.727.5373 direct