Business & Economy
Senate Passes Tax Incentive to Encourage Hiring of Veterans PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 12:48

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley today welcomed Senate passage of a version of the veterans hiring legislation he and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus introduced in January and urged House of Representatives passage as soon as possible.

“These men and women are extremely capable,” Grassley said.  “They have a lot of skills to offer in the workplace.  The legislation that Senator Baucus and I put together clears some bureaucratic hurdles and adds a financial incentive to encourage employers to seek out veterans.  These steps are a logical follow-up to my effort to increase the IRS’ hiring of veterans.  The IRS saw the value of this pool of potential workers and followed through on increased hiring of veterans.  Other employers, including small businesses, should have similar opportunities.”

The legislation approved by the Senate today was based on the Veterans Employment Transition Act, or the VETs Jobs bill, introduced by Grassley and Baucus in January.  A previous version of this credit, which was part of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and also authored by Grassley and Baucus, was designed to help employers hire veterans but expired at the end of 2010.

The new version of the legislation would reinstate the tax credit and make it easier for veterans and small businesses to use.  As a result, servicemen and women who have been recently discharged would be able to provide documentation directly from the Department of Defense without having to go through the tax credit’s current certification process.

The credits will range from up to $2,400 to up to $9,600 in 2012 depending on the veteran hired.  Tax exempt organizations are eligible for the credit.  The credit is only available for calendar year 2012. The credits are 40% of the veteran’s wages up to $24,000.  The credits total:

  • $9,600 for veterans with service-connected disabilities unemployed for 6 months or longer in the past year.
  • $5,600 for veterans unemployed for 6 months or longer in the past year.
  • $4,800 for service-disabled veterans hired within 1 year of being discharged.
  • $2,400 for veterans who do not fit any of the above categories and are unemployed for between 4 weeks and 6 months in the past year.

Any veteran who has left active duty in the past five years who has discharge paperwork showing 180 days of qualified active duty would be eligible for the credit. This would include those men and women who were activated by their states as members of the National Guard.  The bill also helps service members market themselves to prospective employers by requiring the military to educate service members about how the credit works.

Noting that the unemployment rate for veterans is higher than for non-veterans nationwide, the senators first introduced the VETs Jobs bill in May 2010.


Governor Quinn Applauds Passage of Legislation to Strengthen Unemployment Insurance Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Andrew Mason   
Monday, 14 November 2011 14:59

Bi-Partisan Reforms Will Save Businesses $400 Million, Encourage Growth

SPRINGFIELD – November 10, 2011. Governor Quinn today applauded the passage of bi-partisan legislation to strengthen the integrity of Illinois’ unemployment insurance program. The reforms – supported by numerous groups, including the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Illinois AFL-CIO – are expected to save Illinois businesses more than $400 million, provide 16 percent unemployment insurance tax reductions for companies that have not laid off workers, and identify and punish those that defraud the unemployment system.

"We are in difficult economic times, and we need to bolster our unemployment insurance program to protect both workers and businesses," Governor Quinn said. "As we did with our workers’ compensation overhaul this spring, we brought everyone to the table to find a solution. I want to thank representatives of labor, business and the General Assembly whose hard work and collaboration created a package of reforms that will reward Illinois companies for sound business practices, protect those laid off through no fault of their own and give our companies the confidence to grow.”

Illinois’ Unemployment Trust Fund (UTF), like all unemployment trust funds, is designed to be resilient to economic movements, running deficits during downturns and building a surplus during times of prosperity. Due to the ongoing national recession, however, the self-correcting unemployment trust funds in more than half of U.S. states currently carry a negative balance. Illinois is expected to end 2011 with $2.4 billion in outstanding loans from the federal government to cover state unemployment benefits. Without the agreement, in 2012 federal penalties would result in increased unemployment insurance taxes for companies throughout Illinois, regardless of whether they have laid off workers.

The legislation allows Illinois to issue non-General Revenue Fund (GRF) bonds during a period of historically low interest rates to keep the fund solvent, without shrinking benefits and preventing additional taxes to businesses. The bonds prevent continued UTF borrowing at 4 percent interest from the federal government, saving the state an estimated $240 million (nearly $82 million in interest payments in 2012 alone). The bonds are paid for entirely by businesses normal contributions to the UTF and require no payments from the GRF, freeing money for other state obligations.

The bill also will save businesses more than $400 million through 2019 by preventing the penalty taxes that further federal borrowing for the UTF would create. In addition, the agreement will provide significant tax reductions to the nearly 46 percent of Illinois employers (more than 143,000) that have not laid off workers during the recession. Under this legislation, companies that have avoided layoffs will see, on average, a 16 percent reduction in their unemployment insurance taxes in 2012.

"Businesses need a degree of tax certainty to successfully grow in this economy. This legislation will provide the tax relief to make that happen while making the trust fund solvent," David Vite, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said.

"This bill recognizes the difficult decisions necessary to prime the pump of this economy," Tim Drea, secretary-treasurer of the Illinois AFL-CIO, said. "We recognize that the best economic environment in Illinois occurs when business and labor work together."

The reforms also introduce new tools to prevent and recover fraudulent payments, which will help restore UTF solvency. The legislation will, for the first time, allow the state to garnish federal tax returns of individuals who purposefully collect unearned unemployment insurance benefits and establish personal liability for individuals who defraud the unemployment insurance program of taxes owed.

"This legislation will help our businesses regain their footing and provide certainty so they can appropriately prepare for the future," Illinois Department of Employment Security Director Jay Rowell said. "Although the lingering effects of the national recession echo across our country, we must not let that uncertainty prevent sound proposals that will help our local economy."

The unemployment insurance program is a joint federal-state effort, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Businesses’ unemployment insurance taxes fund the UTF, and those contributions fund unemployment insurance benefits to qualified workers. The amount businesses pay is tied to their experience with the program; the more employees a business lays off, the more they must contribute to the fund to support the increased stress on the UTF.

The UTF provides benefits to individuals laid off through no fault of their own based on their income over the previous four quarters. Unemployment benefits provide temporary assistance until an individual is able to find meaningful employment. Temporary payments also help communities in times of economic stress by ensuring continued spending in the local economy.


Grassley Weekly Video Address: Honoring Veterans, Help in Hiring PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Monday, 14 November 2011 14:57

During his weekly video address, Senator Chuck Grassley says thank you to all American veterans for their outstanding service and tremendous sacrifices on Veterans Day and discusses tax policy to encourage employers to hire qualified veterans who have recently completed their military service.


Click here for audio.


Here is the text of the address:

A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.  The unemployment rate for veterans is higher than for non-veterans nationwide.  These men and women are extremely capable.  They have valuable skills to offer the workplace.  They need job opportunities.  This week, the United States Senate took action to help by passing legislation to encourage employers to hire veterans.

The legislative proposal that passed builds on previous legislation put forward by Senator Max Baucus and me, as part of our bipartisan work on the Senate’s tax policy committee.  That law expired at the end of 2010.  What’s now been renewed and passed by the Senate would increase the reward for employers for hiring qualified veterans who have recently completed their service in the military.  The new version of the tax credit also would make it easier for veterans and small businesses to use.

Veterans – including those men and women who were activated by their states as members of the National Guard – will be helped by this tax incentive.  It was passed by the Senate as our nation pauses for Veterans Day.

The eleventh day of the eleventh month is designated as Veterans Day to celebrate as a national community and honor America’s living veterans for their courage, patriotism and sacrifice.  America’s veterans put their lives on the line to defend freedom, protect national security and secure the safety of loved ones here at home.  Like all those uniformed men and women in whose footsteps they follow, members of the Armed Forces continue to make the words “land of the free and home of the brave” ring true.  We owe our liberty and our way of life to them.

So -- to all of those who have answered the call of duty and served -- I thank you for defending my freedom and the freedom of all Americans.  Those words cannot be said enough.  It’s our duty and our privilege to honor all American veterans for their outstanding service and tremendous sacrifices on Veterans Day and every day.


Governor Quinn Announces Successful Month of Illinois Veterans Job Fairs PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Katelyn Tye   
Monday, 14 November 2011 14:33

More Than 500 Illinois Employers Participated in Month-Long Effort

SPRINGFIELD – November 10, 2011. In honor of Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11) Governor Quinn today announced a successful month of job fairs aimed at putting Illinois Veterans back to work. Hosted by the Governor’s Office and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), the fairs are a special statewide effort to help Veterans find employment and inform employers about tax credits that encourage business development. More than 500 Illinois employers have participated in this special series of job fairs.

Today’s Veterans’ job fair in Orland Park is the latest in the series of events that highlight Governor Pat Quinn’s effort to grow jobs and connect qualified job seekers with ready-to-hire employers. IDES director Jay Rowell and Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) director Erica J. Borggren will attend today’s fair to support the hiring effort.

“Veterans have served their state and their country, and Illinois makes a special effort to ensure that those returning home from service are able to transition into the job market,” Governor Quinn said. “November is Hire a Veteran Month, and we want to help our servicemembers to put their valuable skills to use here at home for Illinois employers.”

The Orland Park job fair will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Orland Park Civic Center, 14750 Ravinia Avenue. This is the ninth Veterans’ job fair so far this year, with other events held across the state in Chicago, Naperville, Bloomington, Belleville, Mt. Vernon, Carterville, Bartonville and Effingham.

“The men and women of our Veteran community are true national heroes,” IDVA director Borggren said. “Veterans are proven and committed public servants, and all of Illinois stands to benefit from an empowered Veteran community.”

A state income tax credit of up to $1,200 is available to businesses for each qualified Veteran who is hired. Additionally, employers may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $4,800 through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

Veterans are sought-after employees for their service training, which includes respect for authority, embracing responsibility and success operating in team-based environments. Servicemembers also often have advanced training in technology, manufacturing, construction and logistics.

Success and attendance has grown each year at the statewide Veteran job fairs, which were started in order to recognize the value that Veterans bring to the Illinois workforce. Invited businesses include those whose positions demand the skills military Veterans hone in the service. All Illinois job fairs are open to everyone, and individuals attending should bring resumes and be prepared for brief interviews.

“IDES is Illinois’ employment agency, and our job is to put people to work,” said IDES Director Jay Rowell said. As we approach Veterans Day, it is wholly appropriate to emphasize the skills of these brave men and women and to show how these skills will help employers succeed.”

Illinois has added 37,700 jobs so far this year and 81,000 jobs since January 2010 when job growth returned to Illinois after 23 consecutive months of declines. January 2010 also marked the plateau of the unemployment rate after 33 consecutive month-over-month increases. Since, the monthly unemployment rate has declined 15 times and increased four when compared to the previous month.


IL House votes to close pension loophole for teachers union lobbyists PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Rich Morthland   
Monday, 14 November 2011 14:28

Springfield, IL...The Illinois House of Representatives voted Wednesday to close the pension loophole that allowed two teachers union lobbyists to earn huge state pensions after serving for a single day as substitute teachers.

State Representative Rich Morthland (R-Cordova) co-sponsored House Bill 3865, which would prohibit employees of teachers unions from participating in the state's Teachers' Retirement System. It requires the lobbyists already in the system to forfeit all pension credit earned. HB 3865 passed the House unanimously and will go to the Senate for consideration.

"Today we close the book on another shameful chapter of Illinois history," Morthland said. "These guys were lobbyists masquerading as teachers. They took advantage of a pension loophole that allowed them to receive a teacher's pension after subbing for just one day in the classroom. That's a slap in the face to hard working teachers across Illinois. As a member of this union and as the husband of a member of this union, I'm appalled that it has gotten this far."

A Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV investigation found that two lobbyists with no prior teaching experience were allowed to count their years as union employees towards state teacher pensions after subbing for a single day in 2007.

According to the Tribune report, Steven Preckwinkle, the political director of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and fellow IFT lobbyist David Piccioli were the only people who took advantage of a small pension window opened by state lawmakers just a few months earlier. The law allowed union officials to get into the Teachers' Retirement System and count their previous years as union employees after quickly obtaining teaching certificates and working in a classroom. Preckwinkle and Piccioli could collect nearly $3 million in pension payouts, based on their union salaries and years of union credit.

"Illinois' pension systems face serious financial problems, with more than $85 billion in unfunded liability," Morthland said. "I'm glad to join my House colleagues in voting to stop these egregious abuses of pension loopholes."


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