3 business groups say voters need to reject Amendment 1 to fix Illinois

3 business groups say voters need to reject Amendment 1 to fix Illinois

The Illinois Manufacturers Association president warned Amendment 1 would tie lawmakers’ hands from pursuing fiscal reform. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce president said it would decrease business investment and the Technology and Manufacturing Association of Illinois is worried about property tax increases.

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and Technology and Manufacturing Association of Illinois all said Illinoisans need to vote no on Amendment 1 because the government union-backed ballot measure would hurt business and prevent fiscal reform by lawmakers.

Illinois Manufacturers’ Association President Mark Denzler said he believes the proposed constitutional amendment would tie lawmakers’ hands from intervening in government union bargaining, hurting taxpayers and business interests.

“We don’t think you need to enshrine that in the constitution,” Denzler told The Center Square Oct. 28. “We’ve seen problems that the pension clause has created. Lawmakers can’t go back and make tweaks to it. We think this would be a mistake to enshrine this in the constitution as well.

Attempts to reform Illinois’ nation-leading pension debt as recently as 2013 have been denied by the Illinois Supreme Court, citing the constitutional protections approved for public pensions in 1970.

Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Todd Maisch also warned Amendment 1 would cement the state’s anti-business reputation among U.S. companies. Six companies have left or relocated employees outside Illinois this year alone.

“It’s terrible and it will definitely lead to disinvestment or investment that will never come because we distinguish ourselves as anti-business yet again,” Maisch told WMAY-FM radio in Springfield.

Maisch warned the amendment’s passage would also threaten Illinoisans’ access to core public services. He said union bosses would use the nationally unprecedented powers afforded to them by the ballot measure to give state workers unlimited chances to strike.

He said parents could face more teachers strikes with no notice, as happened in Chicago in January.

“So that as soon as, ‘We don’t like an offer that comes from a school board, we can go straight to strike the next morning if we want to.’ Right now, that’s limited. It pumps the brakes. It’s a very deliberative process,” Maisch said. “That law could be out the door in no time.”

The Technology and Manufacturing Association of Illinois has also come out against Amendment 1. The association has hosted webinars with candidates about issues most important to their members, and Amendment 1 was high on the list.

According to their candidate survey, TMA opposes Amendment 1 and recommends their member organizations vote “no” on Nov. 8. If approved, Amendment 1 would lead to commercial property tax hikes on manufacturers across the state.

The two manufacturing and state chamber presidents join five prominent news outlets and an influential Chicago Democrat in recommending Illinoisans reject the government union-sponsored proposal at the top of the Nov. 8 ballot.

Amendment 1 would expand government union negotiations far beyond traditional wage, safety and benefit issues to include topics without legal precedent such as “economic welfare” and “safety at work.” If passed, this language would empower government union bosses to negotiate over a nearly endless array of subjects – from removing strike limits to defunding the police. Proponents have wrongly said the proposal would cover private-sector unions, but federal law covers them so this state proposal could only cover less than 7% of the Illinois workforce with government jobs.

If property tax rates simply continue to increase at their long-run average rate, the typical homeowner will pay over $2,100 in additional property taxes during the next four years. All told, Illinois property taxes are projected to increase $4 billion, with homeowners shouldering about half that increase in a state that’s already No. 2 for high property taxes and double the nation’s average. But Amendment 1 could greatly accelerate that growth by giving government unions the power to negotiate costly contract concessions that carry more weight than state law.

Proponents of Amendment 1 argue the Nov. 8 ballot language doesn’t explicitly say voters will be paying higher taxes if these unprecedented powers and protections are granted to government unions. But Illinoisans now burdened by $313 billion in unfunded state pension debt know the truth – they weren’t told the cost in 1970 when government pension protections were put in the Illinois Constitution.

When special interests are promised inexorable powers by Springfield politicians, it’s ultimately Illinois taxpayers who suffer.

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