The Illinois Business Immigration Coalition,
made up of various state businesses, political leaders and other
immigration rights advocates, announced Monday that it's looking to
recruit some 300 Illinois-based CEOs and small businesses to join its
push for bipartisan immigration reform.
It is economically imperative for America, and the Midwest
specifically, to further embrace immigrant populations into its
workforce, according to a panel of Illinois’ business executives who
urged immigration reform today at The Chicago Club.
The panel, which was comprised of members of the Chicago Council On Global Affairs’ Task Force on Immigration and U.S. Economic Competitiveness, introduced a recent report (PDF) that discusses the role of immigrants in the corporate sector. The group also encouraged members of The Chicago Club to support economic policies that
would advance immigrants in the job sector.
“We as a nation must work harder to
attract and retain immigrant talent and avoid wasting the potential of
the immigrants already here,” the report reads. “Our problem: the
nation’s broken immigration system is holding back the region’s economic
growth and clouding its future.”
In his recent budget speech, Gov. Pat Quinn proposed closing
Illinois’ Tamms “Supermax” prison. The facility’s 14-year history
serves as an apt symbol of how the state’s incarceration system has lost
These days, it seems like you're more likely to see a coyote trapped on an ice floe in Lake Michigan than find a Republican willing to acknowledge Illinois' inefficient and relatively low income tax needed to be raised.
Well, the coyote thing did indeed happen. And yes, there's a big-name GOPer out there who says Illinois needed more revenues. Jim Edgar, the Republican who spent two terms in the governor's mansion in Springfield during the 1990s, agreed that the General Assembly needed to raise taxes to solve the state's mounting fiscal woes, the Daily Herald reported Wednesday. He even gave Gov. Quinn "a lot of credit" for talking about a tax increase during the gubernatorial campaign. In some ways, this isn't that surprising of a relevation. Last fall, remember, Edgar told Don Wade and Roma on their radio program that, "Our
taxes, compared to most other industrial states, are low. If
we're going to have low taxes, we can't spend as much."
Even with this month's tax hike, Illinois' personal income tax rate will remain lower than the rates many residents of, for example, New Jersey pay. Three out of the six tiers in the Garden State's progressive tax code are higher than Illinois' new rate of 5 percent. Perhaps Edgar could even mention this little fact to New Jersey's GOP Gov. Chris Christie, who is rumored to be coming to Illinois next week to poach state businesses based on the new tax structure here.
The DREAM Act is closer to passage than its ever been. But will it get over the ledge?
Last night, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced
he would file cloture on the legislation, which would create a path to
legalization for undocumented immigrants who moved to the United
States before they were 16 and completed two years of college or
military service. If the motion to end debate (and a threatened
Republican filibuster) is approved by 60 senators, the act would come up
for an up-and-down vote sometime this month.
So far, only one Republican -- Richard Lugar of Indiana -- says he will openly backing the bill. As Mother Jones' Suzy Khimm reports,
another five members would need to cross the aisle for it to survive.
We wrote earlier this week about the pressure immigrant rights advocates
are applying to Illinois' newest Sen. Mark Kirk, who has said that the
federal government should wait to consider the provision until it gains
more control of the country's southern border. (Illegal immigration has declined
precipitously across the country, it should be noted, in part because
of increased enforcement efforts.) Perhaps Kirk should listen to his
friend, former Gov. Jim Edgar, who recently wrote that the DREAM Act was both "sensible" and "humane."
Former Gov. Jim Edgar, a quiet supporter of Bill Brady, doesn't
share the same economic philosophy as the GOP gubernatorial nominee.
Brady has consistently touted the success of states like Indiana, where
lawmakers have allegedly "right-sized" their government to attract
business investment. In an interview on WLS' Don Wade and Roma
yesterday, Edgar made a salient point about those comparisons. "Our
taxes, compared to most other industrial states, are low," he said. "If
we're going to have low taxes, we can't spend as much." Listen (the
full clip is available here):
tweak Edgar's point just slightly. It's definitely true that Illinois
has low taxes compared to other industrial states, a point far too few
officials are willing to concede. It's also true that we have an
inefficient tax system that overburdens poor people and can't generate
enough money to pay for critical (and valued) state services like
public safety and education.
When elected, politicians are
asked to reach an ethical decision about what activities the government
should carry out. Then, they must find a way to pay for those programs.
While state government is technically "living beyond its means," in the
parlance of our times, it's also not taking in as much money as it
should be. With the public eager to keep the social safety net in place,
and with so many economically sound revenue generating options out
there, does it make any sense to maintain the tax rate status quo?
Former Gov. Jim Edgar, former Commerce Secretary William Daley, and
their colleagues at the high-profile education advocacy organization
Advance Illinois released a report yesterday, the results of which won't surprise many parents with children enrolled in the state's public school system: while Illinois has admirably expanded its early education offerings, its students at the K-12 level underperform compared to those in other states and are not adequately prepared to succeed in college or the workforce.
commission's recommendations focus primarily on the need to augment the
measly amount of data the state collects on student performance and
teacher effectiveness. It's certainly true that crafting smart and fair
policies require sound information about what tactics work and which
ones fail. (The Illinois State Board of Education, for what it's worth,
a longitudinal data system using federal funding to track student
progress over time.) Curiously absent from the report, however, is any
serious consideration of funding. It's very well-documented that state
support for education (K-12 and post-secondary) is extremely low and dropping. It's also well-documented that placing the burden of funding schools onto localities creates vast inequalities between property-rich and property-poor districts. But that's a political problem the blue-ribbon group won't address. Given their platform, it's a giant opportunity lost for poor kids statewide.