Published on March 4, 2014
Let’s Make Illinois Work Again This isn’t the first time I’ve addressed Illinois jobs. I released my first Destination Economy economic development plan during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. After the campaign was over, I revised my plan to reflect new economic conditions, and kept working on it in the Illinois Senate. It eventually became part of the Senate Republican Jobs Plan. Many parts of my original plan have been enacted. Now, I’ve taken up my plan a third time, and have updated it to reflect the new economic challenges in Illinois and the tremendous obstacles facing this state. Illinois competes for jobs, not only in a global market, but also with the states surrounding us. The financial problems in the state and the fiscal uncertainty, high taxes and burdensome regulatory and legal atmosphere have prompted many small businesses, those that employ your families and friends, to flee our state. Our dysfunctional government allowed Missouri, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin to take our jobs. The environment in Illinois is unfriendly to economic development. We’ve overtaxed, overspent and over borrowed, and we STILL owe billions of dollars to state vendors. This needs to stop, and it needs to stop today. We can conduct an amazing turnaround by implementing a comprehensive economic development plan during my first term as Governor. We have the tools. What this state needs is a new mindset, bold new leadership and the willpower to adopt responsible spending habits. When employers make the decision on whether to stay in Illinois and retain current employees, or expand their business and create new jobs, they look at the total cost of doing business. All businesses have an eye on the bottom line – whether they are a small family-run business or a Fortune 500 company. The people that hire and retain workers look at the tax structure to determine if it is it fair to their business. They ask if workers compensation laws provide necessary protections for their workers without crippling the business with excessive costs. They look at the regulatory environment and see if the rules are unnecessary and overbearing. They wonder if they will have a workforce with sufficient skills to meet their needs. Those folks that create jobs for you, your families and your friends make rational decisions. They create jobs where it makes sense. We’ve observed the failed policies of the past. Jil Tracy, my running mate, and I know what needs to be done to return a Competitive Edge to Illinois. We have experience in small business and the legislature and the executive branch that allows us to formulate and enact integrated plans to turn Illinois around. Page 2 of 19
My Destination Economy plan takes on the tough issues and provides solutions that can be implemented in spite of an intransigent legislature. Destination Economy integrates with our Best in Class education program that provides a framework to teach our kids the skills they need to become part of a 21st Century workforce. We are at a tipping point. The needs are many and the time is short. So where does this state go from here? We’re the home of leading industries; we’ve made previous investments in infrastructure and emerging and cutting edge technologies. We are a transportation hub for the nation and the world. Our schools are academically excellent and we have a highly skilled and motivated workforce. Destination Economy lays out a roadmap that leverages the unique advantages of this great state. Destination Economy addresses short-term solutions to our pressing problems while providing a long-term plan for future economic growth. This proposal would impose responsible budgeting, and lay out an environment for job creation and business growth that embraces our numerous resources. Illinois should no longer be the laughingstock of late night comedians; we should stand out as a national leader. We should stop squandering our precious intellectual and financial capital and embrace programs and initiatives that bring out the best of every region of Illinois and on Main Street. We need to create job opportunities for our children so they stay in Illinois. We want our kids to live 10 minutes away, not 10 hours. We need to declare Illinois OPEN FOR BUSINESS and Make Illinois Work Again! Kirk W. Dillard Page 3 of 19
Destination Economy Making Illinois Work Again Kirk Dillard’s plans create jobs for Illinois families. ABSTRACT Kirk Dillard believes that Illinois can conduct an amazing turnaround in the jobs market for Illinoisans during his first term as governor. However, this will take a fresh mindset in Springfield, patience to turn around the state’s over-spending habits, and bold new leadership. Page 4 of 19
The Starting Point According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of December 2013, Illinois has over 500,000 unemployed workers, with an unemployment rate of 8.6%. These numbers are higher than our neighboring states, and well above the national average. The state ranks 48th in economic development, and the public’s confidence in government is already shaken to the core. We need to restore our trust in government again by concentrating on the core mission of state government. Despite a 67% income tax increase, the state has a $5.2 billion backlog of bills but unless something is done, that number is projected to continue to grow dramatically in the coming months and years. An average family’s share of Illinois debt averages thousand of dollars for past services, and close to $30,000 for future contracted obligations. Despite recently approved pension “reform,” Illinois has the worst funded pension systems in the nation. Despite a supposedly “balanced” budget, our credit rating has been downgraded 13 times on Pat Quinn’s watch, and we now have the worst credit rating in the nation. This has resulted in millions of dollars in increased borrowing costs. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-26/news/ct-met-illinois-bond-rating20130126_1_action-on-pension-reform-robin-prunty-downgrade). Pew Charitable Trusts indicates that Illinois will rank 50 th in the nation in job creation in 2014. (http://www.pewstates.org/research/data-visualizations/top-states-for-jobcreation-in-2014-85899531089) This sobering fact belies the many benefits this state has to offer: • • • • • • Home to industry leaders Rich in consumers Top-flight higher education institutions Centralized national transportation hub First-rate transportation for national commerce Highly skilled workforce We must provide an environment where you and your family can grow and prosper. The problems of the state derive from a variety of factors, most of which can be traced to a sluggish economy and unemployment above the national average and a negative business climate that is amplified by irresponsible leadership in Springfield. Fiscal mismanagement, the culture of clout, pay-to-play politics and partisan bickering has resulted in: • • • Negative national reputation Unfriendly business environment felt by individuals and businesses Confrontation between government and job creators Page 5 of 19
• • • Systemic budget deficits An overly complex tax and fee structure A slow and bureaucratic State Government that is unresponsive to the needs of those that retain and create jobs Add out-of-control spending reliant on temporary resources for long-term and costly programs, skyrocketing healthcare costs, a contentious business/labor relationship and the lack of a clearly articulated long term strategy for job creation, and it’s no wonder Illinois is facing its biggest challenges in a generation. Over his first four years, Kirk Dillard will implement the most comprehensive economic development plan this state has ever seen. Kirk Dillard will streamline state government and bring together the best and brightest from the public, private, labor and educational sectors to breathe life back into the Illinois economy. Using the best practices of our neighboring states as a baseline and new ideas by leading experts of their fields, Destination Economy lays out a framework that: • • • • • • • • • Mandates a balanced budget. Reforms the tax code with a goal of overall tax relief. Reduces the cost of doing business. Makes Illinois business climate competitive with neighboring states. Promotes innovation and entrepreneurship. Defines short-term solutions to make an immediate impact on the business climate of Illinois. Creates an Office of the Repealer designed to examine fees, taxes, and regulatory matters in Illinois with the express goal of creating a more employer-friendly regulatory system. Examines and applies previously passed medical malpractice tort reform legislation to manufacturing and other sectors and refines our workers compensation rules. Prepares a 21st Century workforce. There is no shortcut to success. Diligent thought and effort will go into making Illinois an attractive place to do business once again. Employers need to know they can count on a stable tax and regulatory climate in order to remain competitive and create jobs. That’s the essence of making Illinois a “Destination Economy.” Page 6 of 19
The Illinois Today Program Stabilize the Fiscal Environment The Illinois economy will not recover until it stops digging a deeper hole by borrowing and spending and we stabilize the government revenue stream. At that time, the state will be able to reform its individual and business tax codes and roll back the 67% individual income tax increase. A Mercatus Center study (Does Government Spending Stimulate Economies, July 2010, George Mason University, http://mercatus.org/publication/doesgovernment-spending-stimulate-economies) on the effects of stimulus spending on the economy concluded that the economy might get more “bang for the buck” with tax reform rather than spending hikes. Balance the Budget In order to achieve a balanced budget, structural changes must be made in the budget process. The State’s credit card must be “cut up.” • • • • Spending will be capped at FY 2014 levels for the foreseeable future by prioritizing and expanding efforts to introduce economic stability and encourage growth. State government will be built from the ground up. Every program and expense will be scrutinized and only those that show positive results will be retained. Those programs that show an economic return for the funds invested will be viewed as economic opportunities. A constitutional amendment will be sought to force the legislature, under penalty of not being paid, to pass a truly balanced budget using projected revenues. The budget must be confirmed balanced by the Illinois Treasurer, the Illinois Comptroller and the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COFGA). Tax Reform Create a tax-reform panel comprised of experts of taxpayers, economists, legislators, labor leaders and representatives from small and large business to review the archaic business and individual tax codes with the goal of establishing a more sensible, fair and equitable tax structure. Repeal the Illinois Estate Tax Illinois is one of only a handful of states that impose a death tax. The death tax is especially hurtful to family farmers, small businesses and sole proprietorships. This tax is one of the factors driving senior citizens to warmer, more tax-friendly states. The death tax must be eliminated. Illinois’ rates range from roughly 7-17 percent. This is in addition to the federal rate, which currently maxes out at 40 percent. Astonishingly, an Illinois family may be required to give half of its net worth to the government in the event of the death of a loved Page 7 of 19
one. Ethical Government The perception of Illinois and other states is that of continual public “corruption”. True or not, as Governor, Kirk Dillard will continue to build on his record leadership against the culture of corruption by continuing to support policies for openness and transparency in government. Why would a CEO of a business come or stay in Illinois if there is not a perceived change in how government is run? Throughout his tenure as Senator, Kirk Dillard sponsored and passed several initiatives including: • • • The first campaign finance/ethics reform legislation in 25 years. It included gift and revolving door restrictions, campaign finance reporting and prohibited campaign expenditures for personal use. (Kirk Dillard will push to implement the remaining recommendations of US Attorney Patrick Collin’s ethics reform.) A constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget for each fiscal year or legislators will not be paid. Abolish legislative fundraisers in Springfield when the Legislature is in session. (Kirk Dillard will call to expand this to include constitutional officers and anywhere in the state) Create a Business Friendly Environment Public-Private Partnership to Replace DCEO As Governor, a top priority for Kirk Dillard would be establishing a new marketing campaign, Destination Illinois, to attract businesses and high paying jobs. Using successful public-private partnership models that have been adopted in other states, Kirk Dillard would make state government and job creators partners such as when he spearheaded the efforts to bring the Boeing headquarters to Illinois. We must market the vast resources of Illinois to the rest of the country. The Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is “perceived” as a particularly non-responsive, political or uncooperative agency. Kirk Dillard will be front and center in the Illinois marketing effort. Dillard will reorganize the DCEO within the Office of the Governor and create a public-private partnership between government, business (including small business) and labor whose sole mission is to create economic opportunities in Illinois. An example of this approach is when Kirk Dillard led the efforts to bring new work rules to Navy Pier/McCormick Place. This group would provide both short and long term planning for the economic development mission of Illinois, advocate on behalf of business and communities, promote innovation and partner with similar regional agencies. An example of such a regional Page 8 of 19
partnership is Choose DuPage. Indiana, Texas and New York have such agencies governing its economic development strategies. A public-private partnership will remove the political aspects of awarding economic development grants and involve the experts. While business and labor relations are often contentious, they often have many areas of common interest. Both groups contribute to our state's economic vitality and represent interests important to many citizens. Kirk Dillard strongly believes in maintaining the agreed-bill process for business-labor issues. This process insures that both sides must sit down and agree to changes BEFORE running to the General Assembly and seeking a political fix to a problem. Project Green Tape The business community has repeatedly maintained that the current regulatory system in Illinois stifles growth and increases costs to employers. The red tape for certain permits can take twice as long as the same permits in neighboring states. State government should be doing all it can to promote job growth and business retention, not be a hindrance. Kirk Dillard's running mate, Jil Tracy has been a State Representative from the Quincy area since 2006. Her family built DOT Foods, a major food redistribution company from a handful of employees to now over 2,000 in Illinois and over 4,000 nationwide. Jil Tracy’s business expertise makes her uniquely qualified to be in charge of the Office of the Repealer. This office will meet with businesses, farmers, educators, and the public to seek out laws and regulations, and mandates that have become obsolete or cumbersome. Once identified, the Office will move for their elimination or repeal. • • • Create an Office of the Repealer to examine all fees, taxes and regulations in Illinois. The Office of the Repealer will also recommend what state laws need reform, identify redundant or onerous regulations and mandates and put forth a plan to streamline bureaucracy so that state government is a partner and not an obstacle for employers. There will be a system for receiving public comment, and the Office will give recommendations for outright repeal or modification to the appropriate government body. Competitive Edge Comprehensive Workers’ Compensation Reform While the recently enacted workers’ compensation legislation was a step in the right direction, the Governor and others continue to protect their interest group allies by blocking additional workers’ compensation reforms that are desperately needed in order to significantly reduce the cost of doing business in Illinois. Page 9 of 19
Additional comprehensive workers’ compensation reform is essential for Illinois to regain its rightful place as the Midwest’s economic engine. Effective workers’ compensation reform negotiations must include “causation” and the discussion of these elements: • • • • • Attribution AMA guidelines Medical provider network Strengthening utilization review Rebuttable presumption for drugs and alcohol. Tort Reform Today, Illinois is known as a “punitive” state for business and job growth due to a biased tort system. Professional liability costs are especially a significant portion of insurance expenditures. Frivolous, or high dollar jury awards result in outrageous insurance costs to employers. During the past decade, Illinois has seen a shortage in the ranks of doctors and other health care professionals, especially in central and southern Illinois. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, will usher in a dwindling number of healthcare professionals, leaving vast swaths of Illinois without adequate care for many families. Kirk Dillard has been a strong advocate for tort reform and medical malpractice insurance reform to assure access to health care in Illinois, especially for cases involving women, children and emergency situations. A Kirk Dillard Administration will review and press for legislative changes to reform the tort system in Illinois: • Move forward with previously Kirk Dillard sponsored tort reform bills, including imposing caps on non-economic damages, and advocate for reforming torts and lowering costs, while continuing to protect real victims. Roads and Bridges Businesses look to Illinois for its proximity to major transportation hubs such as the intermodal facility in Bolingbrook, as well as its extensive highway system. Unfortunately, Illinois got a D+ on its latest American Society of Engineers infrastructure report card. Along with the federal government, capital programs (e.g. construction & repair and maintenance of our roads, bridges, mass transit facilities and university buildings) are a responsibility of the State. We must keep pace with our infrastructure needs for business and commuters. The current Illinois backlog of projects far outweighs the wish list for new projects. This is Page 10 of 19
bad for the economy because of lost time for commuters and commercial activity. In short, we need to keep pace with critical needs or the backlog will increase and the cost of paying for projects will continue to escalate. The last capital program, which did not come close to closing the gap of deferred maintenance projects, was approved in 2009. I will support a capital plan during my first term within the following parameters: • • • • Funded through a mix of pay-as-you-go and bonds with a dedicated revenue source, since managing the amount of debt is critical. Includes projects that are critical and that proportionally benefit the citizens of the State. Includes inventive ways for funding such as creative tolling and privatization. Call on Illinois’ Congressional delegation to push for Illinois dollars for capital repair and replacement of mass transit infrastructure. I have proposed cutting the current state sales tax on gasoline by 70% and devoting a portion of the remaining revenues to road and bridge infrastructure. This proposal saves a typical Illinois family nearly $200 a year while supporting one billion dollars transportation improvement plan. Metra Metra provided more than 81.3 million rides in 2012. Commuters depend on safe and timely rides each day to get to work. This extreme weather this year has wreaked havoc on the outdated Metra infrastructure and systems. There has been a delay in posting timely information for the commuters. Destination Economy cannot ignore the importance of this gridlock in a Metropolitan area of over 8 million people. These transportation issues extend to PACE and the Chicago Transit Authority. There must be immediate and continued action when it comes to the essential function of mass transit in the State: • • • Create a Commuter Bill of Rights that lays out rights for commuters and taxpayers supporting the system Call for an immediate summit on mass transportation with all service agencies (CTA, PACE, Metra), RTA and downstate transit agencies to discuss transit capital needs and new ideas for providing cross service at times of distress. The RTA should immediately begin to reallocate capital funding and discretionary funds to deal with dysfunctional infrastructure. Remove the 5% Utility Tax for Manufacturing A five percent utility tax holiday would provide immediate substantial relief for manufacturing companies, which is an industry that has taken a disproportionate economic hit in Illinois. This was a successful initiative of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Revitalizing Illinois’ manufacturing sector, and bringing back the accompanying high Page 11 of 19
paying jobs, is a top priority of the Kirk Dillard plan. Edge Tax Credit As the sponsor of the original Edge tax credit, Kirk Dillard understands how important it is to have it as a job creation tool in order to be competitive with our surrounding states. It has come under scrutiny lately for being used by large corporations on a case-by-case basis. The original Edge Tax Credit was never based around corporate structures. • • Support recent legislation to bring greater oversight to the Edge Tax Credit. Make Edge Tax Credits available to small businesses. Institute the Illinois High Wage Tax Credit A component of a good business climate is adopting policies that make our cities and communities attractive to scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and other members of the so-called “creative class.” Destination Economy proposes a tax credit to both large and small employers that create new high-wage jobs for Illinois workers. With a goal to establish new highly paid jobs in Illinois that might have otherwise gone to neighboring states, the tax credit would be equal to 10% of the total qualifying salaries. Protect the Competitive Electric Marketplace Illinois business groups have called competitive electricity markets in Illinois the single best economic development tool passed by the General Assembly in the last 10 years. Since its enactment, Illinois employers and residents have seen electricity rates drop substantially, saving billions of dollars in energy costs. Smart Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) statistics show that the Air Bureau processes more than 5,500 permits annually. Amazingly, 3,500 permit holders (often construction permits) account for less than one percent of all emissions. Recently, former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels called the EPA the “Employment Prevention Act,” referencing the agency’s inability to process these types of permits in a timely fashion – literally stopping commerce in its tracks. Eliminating unnecessary permits will free up three full-time and several other part-time EPA employees to work on more important environmental issues. The EPA had previously proposed eliminating these permits only if lawmakers impose higher air permit fees on heavy emitters and for new greenhouse gas regulations. Kirk Dillard proposes eliminating the majority of these burdensome permits, while continuing to protect our environment from heavy emitters. Page 12 of 19
Refundable Tax Credits for Small Business To spur economic growth, Illinois should allow for refundable tax credits for S corps and LLCs that they can carry over for the next four years. Small business supplies jobs to 75% of Illinois workforce. These credits will allow small businesses to grow and hire additional workers. Two-year Moratorium on new State Healthcare Mandates In order to improve the business environment in Illinois and give confidence to individuals and small businesses that their fixed costs won’t escalate, a two-year moratorium on new state healthcare mandates is proposed. The Affordable Care Act, and the mandates required as part of the "established essential benefits package," requires that state officials develop a better understanding of the impact of Obamacare on employers before imposing any additional roadblocks to job creation. Procurement Set-aside for Small Business Continue the SBAC-inspired law having the goal that at least 10% of the total dollar amount of State procurement contract is awarded to small businesses. Protect the Convention and Tourism Industry A Kirk Dillard Administration will continue to promote the Illinois ‘ travel and tourism industry that employs almost 300,000 people and generates more than $31.8 billion in economic activity annually. Investing in tourism at the state mandated level would grow GRF revenues ($1 to $9 ratio), increase jobs by enhancing local tourism grant programs, allow Illinois to expand into new markets and retain and attract convention and trade shows. We must also place emphasis on maintaining existing tourism opportunities in Illinois that should be enhanced by the state’s new efforts to lift its economy. • • • Audit the existing tourism spending in Illinois to see that it gets maximum returns on its investments. Review the $100+million budget for advertising within the Illinois Office of Tourism and develop a unified statewide strategy. Continue to support Choose Chicago Support improvements of the McCormick Place (one of the premier convention centers in the nation) complex, Navy Pier and general additions approved in prior legislation that supports additional job growth. Page 13 of 19
The Illinois Tomorrow Program Illinois is unique among our midwestern neighbors. We are one of the leading agricultural powers in the world. Home to Chicago, we are the Midwest’s transportation, financial and data industry hub. The state is home to excellent schools, community colleges and universities that serve as career and job training centers. Illinois leads the technology sector outside of Silicone Valley. Put this all together and Illinois boasts a highly educated and motivated workforce. A perfect example of our ability to leverage our strengths is the company “1871,” which is a co-working center for digital startups. Located in the famed Merchandise Mart in Chicago, the 50,000-square-foot facility provides Chicago startups with affordable workspace and access to mentors, programming, educational resources, potential investors and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Places like 1871 create a synergy that benefits students, recent graduates and businesses from its success. Focus on the Future – Innovation and Entrepreneurship The future of the Illinois economy is vested heavily in its ability to create jobs and maintain and grow businesses. Importantly, small business employs over 75% of workers. Many of these small businesses have been established or will be created by one of Illinois’ premier labs, universities, scientists or business people. Kirk Dillard supports endeavors like Illinois Ventures where a University of Illinois subsidiary invests in start-up businesses with Illinois ties. This pairing of the public and private sector allows direct investment in start-ups. Leveraging University research and state resources, we can tap private venture capital dollars to provide seed money and equity funding for job growth. This collaborative approach can be used with other universities and community colleges in the state. Illinois cannot be competitive in the U.S. or the global marketplace if it does not embrace entrepreneurship, technology-based businesses and commercialization and public-private partnerships. All these can attract and support targeted job creation and investment in new technologies. For example: • • • • Expand and work with Innovation Zones in Illinois. Illinois must maximize all federal dollars available for small business owners on Main Street. Open doors to a new generation of financial services. Promote the Illinois travel and tourism industry. The state can be a leader creating opportunities to keep our young people and workers — and their ideas — in this State. Technology Districts and Innovation Zones Illinois needs to enact Technology Districts and Innovation Zones to link into the state’s Page 14 of 19
strong roots in research and development and cutting-edge science and technology communities. • • • • Technology Districts would be financed in a similar manner as Tax Increment Financing districts but wouldn’t require designating an area as “blighted.” Technology Districts would be designed to create jobs in technology, train local residents in technology work, and facilitate growth of technology infrastructure. Create Innovation Zones that are designated areas with high concentrations of information and technology-related companies. Innovation Zones would help expand high-tech businesses, and attract new techrelated entities to the state through tax incentives, loans and other financial resources. Make Research and Development Tax Credits Permanent The former Congressional Office of Technology Assessment stated that, “… for every dollar lost in tax revenue, the R&D tax credit produces a dollar increase in reported R&D spending, on the margin.” Other studies claim even higher returns, with the economic benefit to tax ratio between 1.3 and 2.0. • While the General Assembly recently enacted R&D tax credits, they will expire in 2016. These tax credits must be made permanent to show business we are serious about retaining and attracting jobs in Illinois. Retain Illinois as a Leader in New Technology Illinois must continue to attract cutting-edge technology jobs. For example, Illinois is currently at the forefront of nanotechnology. Technology leaders view nanotechnology as the most significant technological frontier being explored. Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory have created a partnership dubbed the International Institute for Nanotechnology (IIN or Nano U). Funded in part by grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Nano U has received more than $445 million in research development and has made Illinois a leader in nanotechnology. Nanotechnology could provide a limitless innovation in the fields of energy, environment, health care, transportation and electronics. Public-private partnerships must continue; these collaborations have the potential to create many high-paying jobs in Illinois. Nano U is the model we should be using to develop these public-private partnerships. Illinois has the potential of being a leader in many emerging industries. Because of our proximity to transportation, research labs, colleges and universities and major corporate leaders we are uniquely position to take advantage of our strengths. As recently evidenced by a $70 million federal award to the University of Illinois Labs, Chicago will be a leader in digital and advanced manufacturing. This lab virtually and digitally communicates with manufacturers to create more efficient operations. As Governor, Kirk Dillard will continue Page 15 of 19
the aggressive and coordinated effort of working with the Illinois Congressional delegation to create more partnerships like this in Illinois. Lure High-wage Jobs to Illinois Senator Dave Syverson has introduced SB 2619 that allows for a sales tax credit for businesses that want to create “server farms” which would facilitate high-speed communication for businesses and create good jobs in the high-tech and the trades. There are a number of companies that could be lured to Illinois with the right business climate. Places like Decatur, Rockford, Carbondale and the Metro East are areas that have or border counties with high unemployment rates. They are also locations with near-by institutions of higher learning to train these new tech sector employees. These communities would be great places to locate server farms. Grow Illinois Farming and agriculture are directly tied to one-quarter of all jobs in this state. Illinois must foster an environment that supports family farms. Illinois has over 76,000 farms in Illinois covering 80% of the state’s total area and constituting roughly 25% of the Illinois economy. Illinois is the leader of national soybean and corn production. ADM, GrowMark, and scores of other businesses all depend on our local crops to produce thousands of products that are exported nationally and internationally. Illinois has to do a better job of allowing these companies to stay competitive in order to maintain our agricultural superiority. • • • Refocus efforts on agriculture-related programs like C-FAR (Council of Food and Agricultural Research), 4H, and funding for soil and water conservation districts. Rededicate some educational dollars to the University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, and other public institutions for research purposes. Create a cutting-edge, agricultural Research & Development tax credit to help partner the private and public sectors at our world-class universities. Foster Green Manufacturing Illinois must foster green manufacturing jobs in conjunction with its institutions of higher education. These sorts of green jobs can be easily obtained through quality work training courses at our community colleges. Advanced green job training can occur in conjunction with Northwestern University, the University of Illinois and the Argonne National Laboratory. Illinois has standards in place that suggest renewable energy production must be at 25% by 2025 for its energy portfolio. Page 16 of 19
The Illinois Prepared Program A thriving economy needs a prepared and educated workforce. Illinois needs to set high standards for all children regardless of where they live and then help to provide the necessary tools to teachers, administrators, school boards and parents so that they can succeed at the local level without unnecessary government interference. Sadly, only one in three students are meeting standards, which is unacceptable. Illinois must be at the forefront in preparing the future workforce. This begins with investing in early childhood education, extends those efforts to the vital middle school years and continues on into college and workforce training. “Best in Class” Education Plan for a 21st Century Workforce Kirk Dillard created a Best In Class education plan four years ago in collaboration with educators, administrators, business and parents. His updated plan is committed to: • • • • • • Preparing children to learn. This will be accomplished through renewing the commitment of the state to preschool education. Closing the achievement gap so that all children will meet standards and succeed in school no matter where they live. Emphasizing the basics of reading and math. Create one or more Science and Math Academies for exceptional students, especially downstate. Encouraging real world training and preparation in the high school and college years. Partnerships between community colleges and business are vital if Illinois is to continue to prepare our youth for the “real jobs” in demand. Keep Higher Education Affordable Prior to the Blagojevich/Quinn administrations, Illinois was nationally ranked for college affordability and state support. Now we are near the bottom in national rankings. In 2004, it cost $134 per credit hour to receive an education at Eastern Illinois University; now it costs $283. In 2002, Illinois appropriated about $2.5 billion for higher education; now we appropriate approximately 20% less. The cost per tuition hour has more than doubled at a time when state funding of our state education institutions has stayed flat or, in many cases, decreased. Illinois is also cutting MAP grants for low-income students making college less attainable for many Illinois students. Illinois is underfunding schools and not providing aid to those students who most need it. College students now hold an average of $25,000 in debt when leaving school. This is unacceptable. The state must reevaluate its priorities. An undereducated workforce will not help restart the Illinois economic engine. Page 17 of 19
Helping Young Adults Through the Economic Downturn Student loan debt is at a crisis level and job prospects for young adults out of college have kept graduates from entering into their field of choice for quite some time. Many stay home unemployed for months or take jobs that do not require a college education. Lenders are squeezing them for payments including garnishing already diminished wages. Kirk Dillard wants Illinois students to stay in Illinois and not leave due to a lack of a good paying job. Kirk Dillard does not want them mired in debt that harms them for endless years to come, just because the economy in Illinois has not kept pace with our surrounding states. Examples worthy of further consideration: • • • • Cap Monthly Loan Repayments. Congress is considering allowing student borrowers to cap their monthly payments based on a percentage of their income. If students make timely payments for 25 years, the remainder of the loan will be forgiven, but the amount forgiven is treated as taxable income. The loan can be forgiven after ten years if the borrower works in a public service career. Pay it Forward, Pay it Back. Sometimes called an Oregon-type plan, this plan lets college students go to an in-state college or University at a reduced tuition rate. They sign a contract to pay the state back over twenty years once they graduate. Students also agree to live in Illinois for a certain number of years after graduating. Plans like this could make higher education affordable for more people. Student investment Plans. In addition to federal loans, Senator Rubio of Florida has called for the creation of these types of plans. Private investment firms cover tuition costs that are repaid later as a fixed percentage of a graduate's income for a set number of years, regardless of whether that amount covers the total. Public Service as an Option for Graduates. As State revenues grow, more opportunities in State and Local governments might be created, making public service a viable option. Kirk Dillard will take steps to reduce the financial burdens on Illinois students and provide options for financing their education: • • • Pay it Forward, Pay it Back. Adopt an Oregon-type initiative. Mandatory Financial Planning. Direct the Board of Higher Education to create, at colleges and universities, a course for incoming students on alternative financial paths and the real repercussions of debt. Unfortunately, most incoming students do not have a financial plan to complete their education. Bolster the community college system as a place to start, augment or complete a students’ education once the post-secondary education tract is started. Page 18 of 19
Final Thoughts Destination Economy is more than a list of facts and figures. It is a framework and a roadmap. It is a vision. It is a living document. We must adapt to an ever-changing environment, and Destination Economy was written to change and adapt, too. Improving the quality of life and our jobs environment is front and center for Kirk Dillard. Our proposals are not Chicago-centric, but realize that Illinois is a large diverse state with large diverse needs. We must set Illinois on a course of prosperity for everyone. Within the first four years of a Kirk Dillard administration he intend to make the lives of those in Illinois better, Destination Economy outlines a path. While Destination Economy has been prepared with the help of experts in their fields, the analysis is limited: a greater depth of evaluation and scoring of individual proposals can only occur from within the Governor’s Mansion. Only after we get started can a full assessment of the current situation of the state and its possible future be analyzed. Utilizing government resources along with the input of a wide range of leaders as spelled out within Destination Economy puts the meat on the bones. But the experience of the Dillard Tracy Team makes them uniquely qualified to take the necessary steps. Kirk Dillard and Jil Tracy are the only candidates in this race discussing specific issues and policies. Kirk and Jil are not hiding behind a multi-million dollar ad campaign, but the ONLY team reaching out to Illinois voters, workers, educators and business leaders, to plan our future and Make Illinois Work Again! Page 19 of 19
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