Rep. Keith Wheeler speaks at the bill
signing ceremony for SB 867.
CHICAGO – State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) announced today that the State of Illinois has substantially reduced startup, annual filing and other fees for limited liability companies (LLCs), the organizational structure preferred by many of Illinois’ 1.2 million small businesses, after speaking at Wednesday’s bill signing ceremony for Senate Bill 867, legislation which he co-sponsored in the Illinois House of Representatives.

The new law will encourage more businesses to form in Illinois rather than go to other states to escape high fees. Effective today, the filing fee for new LLCs drops to $150 from $500 and annual report fees drop to $75 from $250. Previously, Illinois charged fees that were among the highest in the nation.

“Today marks a significant step toward making Illinois a more attractive and welcoming place for innovators and entrepreneurs to start a business,” Representative Wheeler said. “By reducing the litany of state fees, we are making it easier for new start-ups to contribute to our economy faster and create Illinois jobs for Illinois families.”
·        CTA fare hike, previously signed off on by Mayor Emanuel, approved by CTA board.  The proposed fare hike will increase the standard price of a ride on a CTA bus or train by 25 cents.  Many CTA rides are paid for by passes, and pass prices will be increased in rough proportion to the cash fare hike.  The fare hike was approved as part of the CTA’s $1.5 billion budget for calendar year 2018. 

CTA officials had previously briefed transit management and the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel about the fare hike increase, and the Mayor had signaled that the increase was acceptable to City Hall.  The Civic Federation responded to the increase by criticizing the fiscal assumptions underlying the CTA’s budget and fare hike approval.  The Federation states that Chicago-area public transit is facing growing systemic challenges; they attribute many of these challenges to the overall State budget situation and the long-term dependency of the CTA system on insecure sources of revenue. 
When the subjects of jobs, unemployment, and small businesses come up on the House floor in Springfield, you can guarantee that State Representative Keith Wheeler will rise to be part of the conversation.

We talk with him about those issues and what needs to be done to help Illinois grow jobs.  In getting to know more about the representative, we hear about his passion for Chicago Bears football, Walter Payton, U-2, and an educator who influenced him not only in school but who has been a source of motivation ever since.

Budget – COGFA report
·        Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) issues monthly report on State tax revenues.  The nonpartisan arm of the Illinois General Assembly works with the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) and other State departments to monitor ongoing revenues and maintain an information flow to State legislators on the current budget situation. 

In their “Monthly Briefing” which covers revenue facts and trends for November 2017, COGFA reports stable trends in both State revenues and the overall economy.  Pushed by higher income tax rates, November 2017 income tax revenues are up $394 million on a year-over-year basis when compared with parallel revenue numbers in November 2016.   Sales tax revenues rose by $54 million year-over-year.
·         Unemployment rate drops in every Illinois metropolitan area.  Statistics published by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) showed a year-over-year unemployment rate cut in each of Illinois’ 102 counties.  The state gained 18,200 new nonfarm payroll jobs between October 2016 and October 2017, strengthening Illinois prosperity and consumer behavior.  The new numbers are based upon data compiled by state employers and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

As in previous months, new job creation was concentrated in local metropolitan areas that are economically oriented towards health care, health care research and development, financial services, and higher education.  The lowest rates of October 2017 joblessness were found in Bloomington-Normal (Illinois State University, State Farm), with 3.8%, and Lake County (Abbott Labs, Takeda Pharmaceuticals), with 3.9%.  Higher jobless rates were once again posted in traditionally manufacturing-oriented municipal areas, such as Danville (6.0%) and Decatur (5.2%).  

Many Downstate municipal areas have still not recovered from the so-called ‘Great Recession” that began in 2008-2009.  New job creation continues to be concentrated in the Chicago area.  While the State as a whole has generated 18,300 new payroll jobs over the most-recently-reported 12-month period, 26,100 new jobs were created during this time-span in greater Chicago including Lake County.  There continued to be a net loss of new jobs in Downstate Illinois during this period, with low unemployment numbers reflecting migration out of the region rather than the creation of a substantial number of net new jobs.