Business & Economy
Tax Amnesty Program Exceeds State Budget Goal PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kara Beach   
Monday, 07 February 2011 14:42

Generates More than $314 million in State Revenue

CHICAGO – February 7, 2011. More than 78,000 taxpayers sent payments to the Illinois Department of Revenue during the state’s tax amnesty program that concluded last November. The program exceeded its budgetary goal, adding $314 million to the general revenue fund for FY 2011.

“This program’s success is good news as we work to stabilize state finances and to maintain vital public services,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “This much-needed revenue will help our state to meet its obligations and is another important step towards making Illinois fiscally sound.”

The FY 2011 budget estimated that tax amnesty would infuse $250 million into state government coffers during this fiscal year. The state received a total of $717 million in tax payments; $314 million went to the general revenue fund, with the balance going to local governments and the state’s income tax refunds.

“We are pleased with this program’s end result – Illinois’ tax amnesty exceeded expectations,” said Brian Hamer, Director of Revenue. “The program was straightforward and simple, and it generated hundreds of millions of dollars to help the state meet its obligations to vendors, taxpayers, and providers of essential services.”

During the five-week tax amnesty program, which ended Nov. 8, those who paid taxes from previous years were able to avoid interest and penalties on their tax debts. On Nov. 9, penalties and interest on those debts doubled.

While individuals were the vast majority of participants in the program, corporations accounted for most of the program’s tax receipts. Companies scheduled for audits, as well as taxpayers in the collection program, also used the amnesty period, reassessing their own tax returns and making payments to fully eliminate their debt to the state.

In addition to the immediate cash infusion, tax amnesty broadened the tax base. Non-filers accounted for $12 million of state receipts, and will be easier for the state to track in future years. Additionally, improved tax tracking software and enhanced audit and collection capabilities will further assist the state in monitoring filers who came forward under amnesty for future compliance.

Tax Type                           Participants                 State Share of Amnesty Receipts

Individual Income Tax         59,777                         $ 20 million

Business Income Tax          5,264                          $ 252 million

Sales and Use Tax              9,347                          $ 111 million

Other taxes                         3,801                          $ 25 million

Total                                 78,189                          $ 408 million

 

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Q & A: Dollars and Sense PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Monday, 07 February 2011 14:34

Q.  What is the difference between federal deficit and federal debt?

A.  The federal deficit is the annual amount the federal government spends over what it takes in.  According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the federal government is projected to take in $2.2 trillion in fiscal year 2011 and spend $3.7 trillion.  Because Congress now spends $1.68 for every dollar it collects through taxes, the result will be a deficit of $1.5 trillion.  Fiscal year 2011 will be the third straight year with an annual deficit of more than $1 trillion.  The federal debt is the cumulative amount of annual deficits.  The current federal debt is more than $14 trillion.

Q.  Why is the budget freeze in the news?

A.  Congress and the President are discussing ways to reduce spending.  In his State of the Union address in January, President Obama called for a five-year freeze on non-security related discretionary spending.  Congress determines discretionary spending levels annually, by passing 12 appropriations bills.  Entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security are not altered unless Congress passes a law to modify the programs.  The proposed freeze would affect about 11 percent of the federal government’s budget.  President Obama predicts that his freeze would save $400 billion over the next 10 years.  What does that mean in terms of overall debt?  Well, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that if the federal government continues to spend at its current rate, it will add between $7 trillion and $12 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.  The $400 billion in savings President Obama predicts is 5.7 percent of $7 trillion and 3.3 percent of $12 trillion.  So, it’s a drop in the bucket.

The reality is that you can’t raise taxes high enough to satisfy the appetite of Congress to spend money.  Consider this.  Using current Congressional Budget Office projections, over the next 10 years federal spending and interest payments will average 23.5 percent of the gross domestic product.  This is higher than the 40-year average of 20.8 percent.  Also over the next 10 years, revenues coming into the federal government are projected to average 19.9 percent of the gross domestic product, compared to the 40-year average of 18 percent.  So, even with revenues at historic highs, spending will far outpace revenues.

Q.  What should be done to get the national debt under control?

A budget freeze is a step in the right direction, but we need a leap in the right direction.  Washington has to get serious about getting the debt under control.  That means taking an all-of-the-above approach that includes spending freezes, spending reductions, a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and increased efforts to stop fraud, waste and abuse of tax dollars.  Beyond freezing non-security related discretionary spending at fiscal year 2010 levels for five years, as the President proposes, I support freezing non-defense related discretionary spending at fiscal year 2008 levels for 10 years.  This change alone would save almost $1 trillion.  That’s more than twice as much savings as under President Obama’s proposal.

Q.  What else are you doing to get spending under control?

I’m a cosponsor of a resolution that proposes a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.  A constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress as well as the approval of three-fourths of state legislatures.  Congress has voted on a balanced budget amendment several times over the years, but there have never been enough votes to approve the amendment and send it to the states for ratification.  I’ve supported a balanced budget amendment going back to my service in the House of Representatives.  In the Senate, I cosponsored the resolution proposing the amendment the last time it was brought up, in March 1997, when it failed by just one vote.  I’m also a cosponsor of the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act.  This bill, which I also cosponsored during the last Congress, would let the President single out specific spending items in bills that land on his desk.  Congress would have to hold an up-or-down vote on the spending items within 10 days of the President’s sending them back, as long as the President sends them within 45 days of signing the bill.  Any and all funds that are rescinded would go to reducing the deficit, under this proposal.

All this and more should be done to reduce the deficit and rein in the federal debt.  The debt will reduce opportunities for future generations, and the U.S. economy will continue to suffer the weight of a government that spends far more than it can afford.  It’s only common sense that you can’t sustain a situation like we have today, where for every dollar the federal government spends, 40 cents of it is borrowed

 
Mitsubishi, state of Illinois reach agreements PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kara Beach   
Monday, 07 February 2011 09:58

Governor Quinn, Mitsubishi Motors Announce Innovative Partnership to Promote Sustainability,  State to Test Mitsubishi “i” Electric Vehicles in Its State Fleet

 NORMAL, IL – February 4, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn and Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to support the advancement of electric vehicle and renewable energy technologies in Illinois. As part of the agreement, Illinois will receive a limited number of Mitsubishi Motors “i” battery electric vehicles (i MiEV) on a temporary basis to evaluate the new electric vehicle (EV) technology on the state’s fleet.

“We are continuing to make strong investments in our green economy, which are putting people to work across Illinois. This partnership reflects our mutual commitment to the EV industry here in Illinois, and our common interest in bringing the jobs and environmental benefits these innovative technologies will deliver to our state. In Illinois, we are doing everything necessary to stabilize our economy, and this partnership is an important step toward securing our long-term economic growth.” Governor Pat Quinn said.

Under the agreement, the state will explore opportunities for joint research and industrial development among the parties and other Illinois-based research institutions to assist in the development, adoption and promotion of EVs and green technologies. The state will also work with Illinois community colleges and technical schools to develop curriculum and training programs to meet the demands of this growing sector.

“Mitsubishi Motors has a partnership of more than 25 years with the State of Illinois, and we are pleased that this partnership will now extend into Electrical Vehicles for the future,” said MMNA President & CEO Shin Kurihara.  “We are impressed with the state’s commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability, and we look forward to the initiatives outlined in this agreement.

In addition to providing an inventory of test vehicles for the state’s fleet, Mitsubishi will provide information and recommendations on strategies to support EV adoption in Illinois. Mitsubishi will work with the state to share information on smart grid enabling strategies, and will also help EV adoption as well as charging infrastructure strategy by making the EV available to Illinois Mitsubishi dealers helping advance the EV cause.

“As we look to further enhance our competitiveness in the global economy, we know that our investments in the green industry will play a critical role in creating jobs and building a more sustainable economic future in Illinois,” said Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Warren Ribley. “This partnership with Mitsubishi will not only help make Illinois a leader in electric vehicle infrastructure deployment, but will also advance our efforts in smart grid technologies and other high-growth sectors that will help attract investment and create even more jobs.”

Today, Mitsubishi also announced a partnership with the Bloomington-Normal EV Task Force to supply 1,000 of its new, fully electric Mitsubishi “i”s to the Bloomington-Normal community by 2014. This agreement further supports the task force’s EV Town initiative, an effort by the communities to further the local EV market. As part of the initiative, the town of Normal plans to lease two European market versions of the Mitsubishi “i,” due to arrive in March of 2011.  The town is also working to implement charging infrastructure to support the increase in EVs throughout Normal in 2011.

Earlier today, Governor Quinn announced a business investment package for Mitsubishi that will save at least 1,200 jobs at the company’s Normal facility and bring production of the new Outlander Sport, which is currently produced in Japan, to Illinois. The Japanese Automaker began manufacturing vehicles in Normal, Illinois in 1988.

Illinois continues to see strong signs of economic growth and recovery. Illinois led the Midwest and ranked fourth in the nation for job growth in 2010, and December marked the ninth straight month of declining unemployment.


Governor Quinn Announces Mitsubishi to Produce New Vehicle in Illinois,  State Action Helps Save 1,200 Jobs; Leverages $45 Million Private Investment

 NORMAL, IL – February 4, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced a business investment package that is helping save at least 1,200 jobs at Mitsubishi Motors Corporation’s (MMC) only North American plant in Normal.  Governor Quinn proposed, helped to pass and signed legislation into law in December 2009 to expand the EDGE tax credit to benefit the auto industry. As a result of Illinois’ investment, Mitsubishi has decided to stay and expand in Illinois, and is investing $45 million to produce a new Outlander Sport Crossover Utility Vehicle beginning in 2012.

“Mitsubishi’s decision to produce a new generation of automobile here in Illinois is a strong testament to the strength of our workforce and the state’s appealing business climate,” said Governor Quinn. “By working to stabilize our economy and investing in companies that are investing in Illinois, we’re helping to keep thousands of jobs in Illinois, helping reinvigorate our automobile industry and continuing our economic recovery.”

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is administering the state’s more than $29 million business investment package. The package consists of EDGE tax credits and Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) job training funds that will help enhance the skills of the company’s workforce. Mitsubishi will also benefit from the Normal plant’s location in an Enterprise Zone.

“Mitsubishi Motors remains fully committed to producing vehicles in Normal, and I would like to thank Governor Quinn for his support of the automotive industry.  We will build vehicles here not just for the United States, but for many nations around the world,” said Mitsubishi Motors North America President Shinichi Kurihara.

The enhanced EDGE tax credit enables auto manufacturing companies, which are among Illinois' largest group of employers, to retain employee income tax withholdings and reinvest those funds into operations that create more jobs.

“Mitsubishi has a tremendous impact on the state and local economies, which is why Governor Quinn made it his top priority to help keep this company and these jobs right here in Illinois,” said DCEO Director Warren Ribley. “This investment will help create a more sustainable future for the people of Central Illinois by keeping thousands of union workers on the job and continues our efforts to move the Illinois economy forward.”

Illinois continues to see strong signs of economic growth and recovery. Illinois ranked fourth in the nation for job growth in 2010, leading the Midwest. December marked the ninth straight month of declining unemployment. Illinois ranks first in the Midwest for exports and foreign direct investment.

 

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Grassley Presses Administration to Move Forward on Trade Agreements PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Monday, 07 February 2011 09:33

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley in a letter to President Barack Obama yesterday pressed for action on three pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

Grassley said that he was encouraged to hear the positive remarks in last week’s State of the Union speech, but hopes the President’s actions meet his rhetoric.

“Increasing international trade is key to economic recovery and job creation,” Grassley said.  “The rest of the world is moving forward, at the expense of America’s workforce.  It’s time for the United States to get off the sidelines and start making international trade a priority.”

Grassley noted that the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, once fully implemented could provide $910 million in gains each year for U.S. agriculture, and the potential benefits for Korea could be $1.6 billion for agriculture.

Here is a copy of the text of Grassley’s letter.

February 1, 2011

The Honorable Barack H. Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20500

 

Dear President Obama,

The most critical aspect to jumpstart our nation’s economic recovery is job growth.  In your recent State of the Union on January 25, 2011 you spoke about our three pending Trade Promotion Agreements (TPAs) as a tool to support our economy.  I commend you for highlighting the need to strengthen our trade relations with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.  However, you also called attention to these three pending agreements in your last State of the Union on January 27, 2010.

Unfortunately we are no closer today than we were a year ago in advancing these TPAs.  I therefore reiterate my urgent request that your Administration submit implementing legislation to Congress for each of these agreements without delay.  If we are to meet the goal of the National Export Initiative to double exports, we must break down trade barriers beginning with the three TPAs which are already negotiated.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Colombia TPA, once fully implemented could provide $910 million in gains each year for U.S. agriculture.   The potential benefits for Korea are even greater - $1.6 billion for agriculture alone.  The result is jobs - jobs we desperately need in the heartland and across the U.S.

It’s time to back up your words with actions.  I strongly urge you to send all three agreements to Congress for approval as quickly as possible.  Thank you for your attention to this important issue and I look forward to working with you to bring these trade agreements to completion.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley

United States Senator

 
Iowa-Tested Reality Check Helps Keeps Washington Accountable PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Monday, 31 January 2011 15:34
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In one of the first orders of business of the 112th Congress, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a good government measure I’ve pursued for more than a decade.

In a move that will pull back the cloak of secrecy that effectively hog-ties the people’s business in the U.S. Senate, anonymous “secret holds” will no longer be allowed.

A hold is a request by individual senators to their respective party’s leader in the Senate to object on their behalf as a sort of proxy.   Until now, senators didn’t have to disclose their identities when placing a hold.  Now, under the reform I co-authored, the Senate is under a binding resolution that automatically will trigger public disclosure of who is behind an objection to legislation or a nomination pending before the U.S. Senate. Specifically, the senator’s identity will be published in The Congressional Record within 48 hours. Previously, lawmakers could bear no public accountability.

My reason for ending secret holds is simple: If a lawmaker finds it necessary to delay action on a pending bill or nomination to build consensus, gather more information or argue for a different approach or policy, he or she should have the guts to make the hold public. Requiring a non-negotiable end to the anonymity of holds will bring better, more effective transparency to the legislative process.

A hold is effective because much of the Senate’s business operates by unanimous consent.  The reform will still allow each senator to exercise his or her prerogative to withhold consent on legislation or a nomination.  It’s important to preserve senators’ rights to represent their constituents and work for the best interests of the country.  But now such holds must withstand the light of day. The public has a right to know what their senators are objecting to and why.

In the U.S. Senate, I have championed many reforms in Washington that improve good governance and keep an important distinction in mind.  As stewards of the public purse, lawmakers work in Washington for the people. The people don’t work for Washington. That’s why I work year after year to hold office holders and the federal bureaucracy accountable.

Today I’m building on a crusade launched more than 20 years ago to bring Congress under the same laws it passes for people on Main Street. President Clinton signed my reform legislation into law in 1995. The Congressional Accountability Act applies a dozen federal workplace, employment and civil rights laws from which Congress routinely exempted itself, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Veteran’s Employment and Reemployment Rights at Chapter 43 of Title 38 of the U.S. Code, and the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1989.

I’m also fighting to end another double standard that flies in the face of integrity and good governance. In the last Congress, the President and Democratic congressional leaders pushed through a sweeping federal health reform law that makes significant changes to the nation’s health insurance system. Despite my efforts to ensure the new law would apply to the White House and those who drafted the bill in Congress, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 exempts the West Wing and congressional leadership staff from key elements of the law.

Talk about hogwash. Public officeholders who make the laws that apply to the rest of the country ought to have to taste their own medicine. That’s why in January I reintroduced my legislation that would require the President, members of his cabinet and top congressional staff to obtain their health coverage through the same health insurance exchanges as many other Americans when health plans for the general public are made available.  The special carve-out sends an arrogant message to grass roots America:  It says health care reform is good enough for you, but not for us.

Another way I’m working to get Congress started out on the right foot is legislation several other senators and I have reintroduced to stop automatic pay raises for federal lawmakers. Although I helped to block the automatic pay raises for 2010 and 2011, it’s time for Congress to swallow a permanent dose of common sense. Workers in the private sector don’t have the luxury of receiving an automatic pay raise year after year. Neither should members of Congress. Our bill would require a public roll-call vote in the U.S. Senate before a pay raise is approved.

Making sure Washington lives by the same standards that apply to the rest of the country will dismantle cavalier policymaking that can be arrogant and uninformed. Conducting the people’s business with transparency and holding public officeholders to account will help restore public confidence and improve public services. Bringing my Iowa-tested reality check back to Washington week after week sure helps me separate the wheat from the chaff.

Monday, January 31, 2011

 
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