Business & Economy
Sen. Don Harmon Unveils Fair Tax Rate Structure to Cut Taxes For 94% of Illinoisans, Including Everyone Earning up to $200,000 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Neal Waltmire   
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 11:04

Harmon: Fair Tax represents “third way” as alternative to current choice between antiquated, regressive flat tax and draconian cuts to vital investments and services

*** NOTE: Complete rate chart and example tax cut levels at bottom ***

Springfield, IL – Today, Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) announced a complementary proposal to the Fair Tax Act he introduced in 2013, announcing a Fair Tax rate structure that would provide a tax relief for 94% of Illinoisans, including everyone making up to $200,000. The proposal would replace Illinois’ antiquated, regressive flat tax with rates that offer tax cuts to the overwhelming majority, while maintaining adequate revenue to protect vital investments in education, health and human services, and public safety.

“The choice we have is to extend the flat tax or to cut 13,400 teachers from the classroom, to take 95,000 kids off of early childhood education, to say ‘no’ to 30,000 college students wishing to get a MAP grant, to close 11 prisons and release 15,000 prisoners, to lay off 3,000 corrections officers, to cut the state police by 30%,” said Sen. Harmon. “This is a third way. This is a way to provide the services people need and to do so in a way that provides tax relief for 94% of Illinois families.”

Under the proposed rate structure, with lower rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes, the median Illinois taxpayer earning $55,137 annually would receive a tax cut of $303.

Harmon urged his colleagues in both houses of the legislature to support the pending Fair Tax Act by May 4th so that it may be referred to Illinois voters on the upcoming November ballot. “I trust the people of Illinois,” Harmon said when asked about out-of-state special interests running false and misleading attack ads against the Fair Tax.

Polling shows that 77% of voters support a Fair Tax, with lower rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes. Since its introduction in 2013, a large and growing statewide coalition has grown in favor of a Fair Tax, putting it at the top of the legislative agenda as Springfield considers budget options for FY2015.

Illinois Fair Tax Proposed Rates By Bracket

1st Bracket

$0-$12,500

2.9%

2nd Bracket

$12,500-$180,000

4.9%

3rd Bracket

$180,000 & Above

6.9%

 

 

 

 

 
BBB Announces the Quad Cities Integrity Award Winners PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jamie McKenzie   
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 10:01
The Better Business Bureau announces the 2014 winners of the Quad Cities Business of Integrity Awards.  Winners will be honored on April 10 in Rock Island at the Jumer's Casino & Hotel. “These Integrity Award honorees embody the ideals of the Better Business Bureau,” said Chris Coleman, Better Business Bureau President. “Our mission is to celebrate marketplace role models who uphold trust, reliability and ethics. Certainly these businesses are excellent role models because integrity is at their foundation.” Three high school seniors will also be honored for their integrity and each will receive a $2,500 scholarship. They are Andrew Quested of Assumption High School, Brooke Chapman of Central Community High School and Jacob Simpson of Clinton High School. The public is invited to attend the event. Tickets may be purchased for $35 a person or a table of 8 is available for $240. For reservations, please contact Jamie McKenzie at 563-355-1705 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The 2014 QC Better Business Bureau Integrity Award honorees are:
  • Bush Construction Company, Davenport
“Bush Construction is honored to be recognized by the Better Business Bureau for our unique approach to ethics and integrity.  Respecting our vendors like business partners while consistently delivering on our commitments to clients has been and will continue to be keys to Bush Construction’s success.” – A.J. Loss, President
  • DeWitt Bank & Trust, DeWitt
“We were flattered merely to be nominated for this prestigious award.  To be a recipient is truly gratifying, as it confirms the high standards of integrity our employees uphold every day.” – Greg Gannon, President/CEO
  • D'Souza-Krutzfeldt Q.C. Dentistry, Davenport
"At D'Souza-Krutzfeldt Q.C. Dentistry, we believe integrity is about treating people responsibly and with respect." – Dr. Joseph D'Souza, President
  • Humility of Mary Housing & Shelter, Davenport
“Humility of Mary Housing & Shelter demonstrates integrity through our relationships with our guests/participants, vendors, funders, donors and community as a whole through ethical interactions and transparent and responsible fiscal and financial policies. We believe strongly in ensuring that the people we serve are aware of our mission and aware of their own rights as consumers of our services. Integrity is at the heart of our commitment to the people and community we serve.”  – Julie Bockenstedt, Executive Director
  • Kaplan University, Davenport
"Integrity is one of Kaplan University’s core values, and we hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards in everything we do. This includes our commitment to student success as well as our commitment to give back to our local community. It is an honor to be recognized with the 2014 Better Business Bureau Integrity Award for something we feel so strongly about." – Lisa Zerbonia, President Kaplan University, Davenport Campus
  • MidAmerica Basement Systems, Davenport
“It is fair to say that we have a passion and are on a quest to provide the best customer service possible – to turn the table on the reputation of poor customer service and integrity the basement waterproofing, construction and remodeling industry sometimes has. Our goal at MidAmerica Basement Systems is not just to provide good, honest service, but to set and keep improving the standard for customer service and integrity in our industry.” – Howard J. Tatge, President
This year’s generous sponsors include:
  • Brus Construction
  • Cervantes & Gordon PLC
  • Creekside Vineyards-Winery & Inn
  • General Asphalt Construction
  • Iowa American Water
  • Jersey Grille Sports Restaurant
  • MidAmerican Energy
  • Modern Woodmen of America
  • Molyneaux Insurance
  • Miller Trucking & Excavating
  • Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center
  • QC Bank & Trust
  • Rock Valley Physical Therapy
  • Werner Restoration Services
  • WQAD HD TV
Note: Logos for each of the winners are available from the BBB upon request.
Additional Contacts (News Media Only): Chris Coleman, President & CEO, 515-202-8845 (Cell), This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
About the BBB. The BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior.  Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB Serving Greater Iowa, Quad Cities and Siouxland Region was founded in 1940 and is one of 113 BBBs.  Locally, the BBB has over 3,500 Accredited Businesses and provides reports and on companies throughout the state.  Contact the BBB at 1-800-BBB-1600 or  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
Bush Construction Wins Iowa BBB Integrity Award PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Mark McLaughlin   
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 08:32
IA/IL QUAD-CITIES – Bush Construction, Davenport, Iowa, has been named as a winner of the 2014 Iowa Better Business Bureau (BBB) Integrity Award. For A.J. Loss, President of Bush Construction, this award represents a victory against the questionable ethics that can sometimes be found in the commercial construction industry.
“A few folks in our industry will engage in unfair practices,” Loss said. “Their numbers may be small, but their efforts taint the image of contractors throughout the community. When we started Bush Construction six years ago, one of our goals was to create a construction company that would always maintain the highest ethical standards. Our unprecedented success during a challenging economic period is evidence that our unique approach to ethics was welcomed and necessary. We are grateful for this recognition and hope it will inspire others in the construction industry.”
BBB Integrity Award events will be held in Rock Island, IL, and Des Moines, IA. The Quad-Cities Event will be held at a luncheon on April 10 at Jumer’s Casino & Hotel, 777 Jumer Dr., Rock Island. The Des Moines Event will be held at a luncheon on April 24 at the Downtown Marriott, 700 Grand Ave., Des Moines.

Established in 1993, the BBB Integrity Awards recognize businesses and organizations for their outstanding commitment to fair, honest and ethical marketplace practices. An independent panel of volunteer community leaders selects the recipients.
To qualify, applicants must be in business for at least three years, be in good standing with the BBB, and be located within the BBB service area for Greater Iowa, Quad Cities and the Siouxland Region. Organizations that have been the subject of major lawsuits or government actions, as well as previous winners within the past 10 years, may not apply.
Taking the Moral High Road
According to Loss, Bush Construction defines business ethics and integrity as taking the moral high road. “We have defined policies that guide us as a team, ensuring that we remain honest and respectful in our daily interactions with clients and subcontractors,” he said.
Loss noted that general contractors who manage projects efficiently, are fair to subcontractors, and pay subcontractors on time will receive the best subcontractor pricing. “Our ethical treatment of subcontractors allows us to receive excellent pricing in the local market,” he said, “resulting in substantial project cost savings for our clients.”
To help maintain ethical standards, Bush Construction has implemented a best-in class process to be followed when receiving and evaluating subcontractor proposals. “It helps us maintain consistency with the information we share and do not share. It is our ‘guiding light’ to ensure bid shopping does not occur,” Loss said. “Bid shopping is the practice of obtaining lower bids by revealing prices to competing subcontractors. With each project, we keep all bid information confidential to give each subcontractor a fair chance.  Although bid shopping may result in a short-term advantage for a general contractor, it leads to poor relationships with subcontractors and therefore, long-term disadvantages.”

Bush Construction also upholds a Payment Application Management policy. “We have proactively implemented steps to ensure timely payments to subcontractors and suppliers,” Loss said.
Community Involvement
The Bush Construction team believes it is important to give back to the community. All members of the Bush Construction management team are involved with community groups and projects.
In 2013, Bush Construction helped the Casa de los Niños Early Childhood Learning Center in Davenport by building an access ramp for their new bilingual pre-school. Bush Construction donated the labor and professional management for the project. Also in 2013, Bush Construction built the Rotary Club of Davenport’s Centennial Pavilion, donating their fee and professional management services.
Bush Construction was a sponsor for the Mr./Ms. Habitat Pageant, Habitat for Humanity of the Quad Cities’ annual signature fundraiser, in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2013, and was the event sponsor for 2011 and 2012. Also, Bush Construction proudly supports the HAVLife Memorial Foundation and has been the presenting sponsor for the HAVLife Martini Shake Off for the past three years, and will again sponsor the event next year. This organization helps to fund athletic programs, music opportunities and other extra-curricular activities for students who normally would not be able to participate.
Empowered Employees
Bush Construction maintains open channels of communications with employees, holding regular company gatherings to update employees on the status of projects and other company news. To maintain excellence, Bush Construction actively encourages continuing education.
“We strive to keep educating ourselves,” Loss said. “We are in the process of implementing Bush University, which awards credits to participating employees for taking courses in safety, estimating, scheduling, quality control and other industry-specific education areas.”
Loss stated that while Bush Construction has achieved much in six years, they aren’t about to rest on their laurels – the best is yet to come. He looks forward to seeing what the future will bring. “We will always do what is best for our employees, our subcontractors, our clients, and the community,” he said. “Our decision is simple. Do the right thing.”
The public is invited to attend the Iowa 2014 BBB Integrity Award events. For ticket or event information, call 515-243-8137 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
Resist the Urge to Tap Retirement Plans Early PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jason Alderman   
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 08:26

I have yet to meet anyone who thinks they're saving too much money for retirement. On the contrary, most people admit they're probably setting aside too little. Retirement accounts must compete with daily expenses, saving up for a home, college and unexpected emergencies for every precious dollar.

If taking money out of your IRA, 401(k) or other tax-sheltered plan is your best or only option, you should be aware of the possible impacts on your taxes and long-term savings objectives before raiding your nest egg:

401(k) loans. Many 401(k) plans allow participants to borrow from their account to buy a home, pay for education, medical expenses or other special circumstances. Generally, you may be allowed to borrow up to half your vested balance up to a maximum of $50,000 – or a reduced amount if you have other outstanding plan loans.

Loans usually must be repaid within five years, although you may have longer if you're using the loan to purchase your primary residence.

Potential drawbacks to 401(k) loans include:

  • If you leave your job, even involuntarily, you must pay off the loan immediately (usually within 30 to 90 days) or you'll owe income tax on the remainder – as well as a 10 percent early distribution penalty if you're under age 59 ½.
  • Loans cannot be rolled over into a new account.
  • Some plans don't allow new contributions until outstanding loans are repaid.
  • Many people, faced with a monthly loan payment, reduce their 401(k) contributions, thereby significantly reducing their potential long-term account balance and earnings.
  • Your account value will be lower while repaying your loan, which means you'll miss out on market upswings.

401(k) and IRA withdrawals. Many 401(k) plans allow hardship withdrawals to pay for certain medical or higher education expenses, funerals, buying or repairing your home or to prevent eviction or foreclosure. You'll owe income tax on the withdrawal – plus an additional 10 percent penalty if you're younger than 59 ½, in most cases.

Traditional IRAs allow withdrawals at any time for any reason. However, you'll pay income tax on the withdrawal – plus the 10 percent penalty as well, with certain exceptions. With Roth IRAs, you can withdraw contributions at any time, since they've already been taxed. However, to withdraw earnings without penalty you must be at least 59 ½ and the funds must have been in the account for at least five years.

To learn more about how the IRS treats 401(k) and IRA loans and withdrawals, visit www.irs.gov.

Further financial implications. With 401(k) and traditional IRA withdrawals, the money is added to your taxable income, which could bump you into a higher tax bracket or even jeopardize certain tax credits, deductions and exemptions that are tied to your adjusted gross income. All told, you could end up paying half or more of your withdrawal in taxes, penalties and lost or reduced tax benefits.

Losing compound earnings. Finally, if you borrow or withdraw your retirement savings, you'll sacrifice the power of compounding, where interest earned on your savings is reinvested and in turn generates more earnings. You'll forfeit any gains those funds would have earned for you, which over a couple of decades could add up to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income.

Bottom line: Carefully consider the potential downsides before tapping your retirement savings for anything other than retirement itself. If that's your only recourse, consult a financial professional about the tax implications.

 
Local Credit Union Earns Six National Awards PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Alvaro Macias   
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 07:25

Ascentra Credit Union Earns Six Diamond Awards for Excellence in Marketing and Public Relations

BETTENDORF, IOWA – Ascentra Credit Union was recently honored with a total of six Diamond Awards, which recognize outstanding marketing and business development achievements in the credit union industry.

The awards were presented by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Marketing and Business Development Council at the council’s annual conference held March 12-15 in Orlando, Fla.  Awards are given in multiple categories ranging from advertising to community events and beyond.

“Many people have told us how much they love our marketing.   Last year we implemented a fresh new approach to our marketing and we have done bigger campaigns and projects that have really tested us,” Ascentra Credit Union President and CEO Dale Owen said.  “It’s great to know that people respond well to your message but it’s a beautiful thing to also be recognized at the national level by our industry.”

Ascentra Credit Union earned three prestigious Category’s Best awards that include credit unions of all asset sizes.   Ascentra received top honors in the following categories:

·         Brand Awareness: Ascentra’s overall 2013 brand awareness campaign.

·         Community/Public Relations One-Time Event: Events leading up to the grand opening of the new branch in Bettendorf and dedication of the building to their late CEO Paul Lensmeyer.

·         Television (single and series): Ascentra’s television advertising campaign.

The credit union was the winner in their asset size class in the following categories:

·         Community/PR-Ongoing Event: Steppin’ Up Program and Pay it Forward partnership with WQAD News 8.

·         Point of Sale Display and Retail Merchandising: ZIP - My Online Services campaign.

·         Complete Campaign: 10 & Done! Mortgage Freedom Loan campaign.

“The Diamond Award competition is the most prestigious competition for excellence in marketing and business development in the credit union industry,” said Michelle Hunter, Chair of the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council, and SVP of Marketing & Development at Credit Union of Southern California.  “Credit unions that receive these awards should be extremely proud of their accomplishments and know that their work represents the very best examples of creativity, innovation, relevance, and execution. The Diamond Awards are not easily earned and the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council is proud to honor those who are deserving of this recognition.”

Under the direction of VP of Marketing & Public Relations Jennifer Naeve, Ascentra’s marketing department has evolved to expand beyond their office space to reach members and future members with a lively and energetic new attitude that connects with the people of the areas it serves.

“We have great support from our management team, staff and board of directors,” Naeve said.  “It just shows what can be accomplished when we are all aligned.  I really have an amazing team and am very proud of our efforts.  It is extremely important to us to do all we can to communicate our products and services to our members, to be their financial partner in achieving their financial goals, and continuing to grow our organization and making it financially sound for our members.  Everything we do is with our members and community in mind.”

About us:

Founded in 1950, Ascentra Credit Union, is Iowa's premier credit union with more than $340 million in assets and 10 branches serving the communities of Bettendorf, Clinton, Davenport, Le Claire, Muscatine, Iowa and Moline, Ill. Learn more about Ascentra Credit Union at ascentra.org. Follow Ascentra on Facebook and on Twitter @ascentra.

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