Business & Economy
Smiddy Sponsors Measure Raising Minimum Wage PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by State Representative Mike Smiddy   
Thursday, 12 February 2015 11:00
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Workers statewide could see increased wages soon under legislation sponsored by state Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, which proposes raising Illinois’ minimum wage.
“All hardworking Illinoisans deserve a fair and reasonable wage, and too many workers are left behind under current law,” Smiddy said. “It’s time Illinois compensates its workers at a rate that allows residents to provide for their families and support local business.”
Smiddy is a chief co-sponsor to Senate Bill 11. The bill raises the minimum wage from its current level of $8.25 an hour to $9.00 an hour beginning on July 1, 2015. This level will rise $.50 a years until it reaches $11.00 an hour in 2019. The higher revenues each worker will take in can be reinvested in local business and help grow the state’s economy.
“This bill provides the aid Illinois workers need immediately, while continuing to increase the minimum wage slowing to allow employers adequate time adjust to rising wages,” Smiddy said. “I’ll continue to support measures to empower working families and plan changes to economic policies in careful, measured steps.”
Senate Bill 11 passed the Senate on February 5, and awaits assignment to a House committee for consideration.

4 Rules For Hiring & Retaining Your Best Employees PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 12:29
Veteran Entrepreneur Says The Best Teacher Is Experience

Exorbitant student loans constitute just one reason why young people eager to experience the world may want to reconsider college, says Ed Basler, a veteran entrepreneur.

There is now $1.2 trillion worth of college debt in the United States and the average borrower will graduate $26,600 in the red, according to The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) Project on Student Debt.

“None of this guarantees a job or even that a college grad will be job-ready,” says Basler, CEO of E.J. Basler Co., (

“After four weeks of business school I, the son of a businessman, had realized that the professor had no real-life experience running a business and that I wouldn’t learn the practical principles necessary to succeed. But I stuck with business school for two years until I dropped out, and I haven’t had any regrets 40 years later. Hands-on experience trumps a degree all the time.”

Factor in the fact that necessary business skills evolve faster than the time it takes to earn a degree and the overall lack of preparation for the real world provided by college and the choice to save time and money is a no-brainer, says Basler.

Business owners and hiring managers should see past the college degrees of potential employees, or lack thereof, and focus on the content of an applicant’s skills and character, says Basler, who offers, in his own words, the following tips for hiring.

•  Do not accept any bad attitudes. A bad attitude spreads like the flu, and if you don’t stop it, it’ll make your whole team sick. Good attitudes will spread too, so look to hire people with a positive nature. Is the prospective hire full of complaints about previous employers? Don’t be surprised if you become the next target of such whining. No one is indispensable. I have interviewed people who were clearly bright and skilled. Yet, afterward, I felt like telling them not to let the door hit them on the way out. I’ve never regretted my decision to insist on good attitudes.

•  Hire friends very cautiously. They can become your best employees. Often, however, they are your worst, and they’re hard to fire. Hire family members even more cautiously. Let them know the ground rules and expectations up front. And treat them like the rest of your employees. I hear horror stories all the time from business people who are suffering because of family involvement. But it can also work very well – it has worked out well for me.

•  Hire not only for skills but also for potential. Leaders can be made if trained and motivated properly. I’ve seen many a young person with no previous experience or knowledge of my business learn a trade or skill and prosper and excel. Many times, it’s even an advantage to start from the beginning with someone who does not have the baggage of bad habits or practices from a previous employer.

•  Put people in the right positions. Test them for their personality and skill sets. There are many tests – one good one is the Meyers Briggs and the DISC profile. It’s hard, sometimes, to understand where people fit, which is why we try to use testing to learn about their particular skills.

“A college degree is a generic qualification and is by no means the ultimate criteria by which you should hire talent,” Basler says.

About Ed Basler

Ed Basler is a longtime entrepreneur and CEO of E.J. Basler Co., (, which provides precision-machined parts and solutions to companies worldwide. He is a sought-after motivational speaker and president of Fresh Eyes Coaching, a firm that helps small businesses identify profit opportunities and obstacles. Ed and his wife, Cathi, also founded and ran a nationally recognized not-for-profit youth organization for 15 years. He is the author of “The Meat & Potatoes Guide to Business Survival: A Handbook for Non-MBA’s & College Dropouts.”

Iowa Management Positions Most Plentiful On-Line PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Cara Eccleston   
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 12:28

Iowa’s Q4 AIM Work Force Index Nation’s Eighth Best:

Q4 Summary

  • Iowa’s WFI ranked 8th best in the nation for the fourth quarter, 2014.
  • Iowa’s job market, based on online openings, is healthy.
  • In absolute numbers, the greatest numbers of online job openings were in Management, followed by Sales and next Customer Services positions.
  • As a percent of employment, the largest numbers of online openings were in Finance, Engineering, and then Information Technology positions.

Iowa WFI. AIM’s quarter IV Work Force Index (WFI) was a very strong 79.2 which was down slightly from 82.9 for quarter III. The WFI is a statistically based measurement tool produced by AIM, a not-for-profit organization in Des Moines, Iowa. The Index is a ratio of unique online job postings and the number of unemployed in Iowa (not seasonally adjusted). The Index ranges between 0 and 100. A WFI below 50.0 indicates short-term job contraction while an Index above 50.0 indicates job expansion. At 79.2, Iowa’s WFI is in a range indicating healthy on-line job openings.

On-Line Openings. For quarter IV, online job postings listed the largest number of open positions in absolute numbers in 1) Management, followed by 2) Sales, and 3) Customer Services positions. As a share of employment, the largest numbers of job openings in descending order were in: 1) Finance, 2) Engineering, and 3) Information Technology.

State Rankings. In terms of Work Force Indices among the states, North Dakota ranked number one with the highest WFI. North Dakota was followed by Minnesota at number two, Nebraska at three, Kansas at four, and Delaware at five. The state with the lowest index was Maine, followed by California at 49, and Alaska at 48. Rounding out the bottom five states were New York at 47 and Mississippi at 46. Iowa ranked as the 8 best in the nation for fourth quarter of 2014 which was a slight deterioration from its third quarter ranking of 5th.

Gov. Bruce Rauner Eliminates Unfair Share Dues for Government Employees PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Catherine Kelly   
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 12:11

SPRINGFIELD - Governor Bruce Rauner today signed Executive Order 15-13 eliminating unfair share dues for state employees who do not wish to fund government union activities and positions with which they may disagree.

The governor’s actions come after an extensive legal review of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Harris v. Quinn. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act violated the First Amendment by forcing certain state employees to involuntarily pay fees to a labor union.

In light of that decision, the Rauner administration has concluded that the so-called “fair share” provisions of the current collective bargaining agreements, that are similar to those invalidated by the Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn, are also unconstitutional.

“Forced union dues are a critical cog in the corrupt bargain that is crushing taxpayers. Government union bargaining and government union political activity are inexorably linked,” Governor Rauner said. “An employee who is forced to pay unfair share dues is being forced to fund political activity with which they disagree. That is a clear violation of First Amendment rights – and something that, as governor, I am duty-bound to correct.”

The executive order allows state employees who wish not to support government unions’ activities to stop paying the forced fees. It has no impact on those employees who wish to remain paying members of the union and fund union activities out of their paychecks.

Additional Background:

·         The federal government prohibited the forced collection of union dues in 1978 as part of the Civil Service Reform Act signed by President Jimmy Carter. That law passed the U.S. Senate 87-1 and the U.S. House of Representatives 365-8. Illinois Senator Charles Percy was one of the co-sponsors.

·         29 other states have laws that prohibit government entities from forcing public workers join or financially support labor organizations that they do not support.

·         While Harris v. Quinn only decided the constitutional issue as it relates to a subset of Illinois state employees (home care workers), the Supreme Court’s majority opinion found that much of the landmark case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education was ”questionable on several grounds.”

·         Notably, the Supreme Court said in Harris v. Quinn:


o   “Abood failed to appreciate the conceptual difficulty of distinguishing in public-sector cases between union expenditures that are made for collective-bargaining purposes and those that are made to achieve political ends. In the private sector, the line is easier to see. Collective bargaining concerns the union's dealings with the employer; political advocacy and lobbying are directed at the government. But in the public sector, both collective-bargaining and political advocacy and lobbying are directed at the government.”

o   “Abood failed to appreciate the difference between the core union speech involuntarily subsidized by dissenting public-sector employees and the core union speech involuntarily funded by their counterparts in the private sector. In the public sector, core issues such as wages, pensions, and benefits are important political issues, but that is generally not so in the private sector. In the years since Abood, as state and local expenditures on employee wages and benefits have mushroomed, the importance of the difference between bargaining in the public and private sectors has been driven home.”

§  “Recent experience has borne out this concern. See DiSalvo, The Trouble with Public Sector Unions, National Affairs No. 5, p. 15 (2010) ( ‘In Illinois, for example, public-sector unions have helped create a situation in which the state's pension funds report a liability of more than $100 billion, at least 50% of it unfunded’).”

o   “A union's status as exclusive bargaining agent and the right to collect an agency fee from non-members are not inextricably linked. For example, employees in some federal agencies may choose a union to serve as the exclusive bargaining agent for the unit, but no employee is required to join the union or to pay any union fee. Under federal law, in agencies in which unionization is permitted, 'each employee shall have the right to form, join, or assist any labor organization, or to refrain from any such activity, freely and without fear of penalty or reprisal, and each employee shall be protected in the exercise of such right.’”


Outstanding Debt Obligations Increase a Modest 1.7% PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Karen Austin   
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 11:48

Lowest annual percentage increase since the turn of the century

DES MOINES, IA (02/09/2015)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald reports that outstanding debt obligations for state and local governments in Iowa totaled just over $15 billion as of June 30, 2014. Overall, this represents an increase of 1.7% over last year. All political subdivisions, instrumentalities and agencies of the state are required to disclose outstanding long-term obligations, including bonds, notes, capital leases and loans, annually to the state treasurer. "While debt nearly doubled in the last decade, this is the lowest annual percentage increase reported since the turn of the century," Fitzgerald explained. "We see the greatest increases in debt issued by education-related entities such as schools, the Board of Regents and community colleges."

Education-related debt comprises over 38% of the total debt (public schools 23%, Board of Regents 11% and community colleges 4%). Debt issued by schools increased 8.49%, Board of Regents 7.11% and community colleges 6.86% over last year. A majority of the $5.8 billion debt incurred by school districts and AEAs is for construction or renovation projects. "In some areas, we see new schools being built, while in other areas we see old infrastructure being improved," Fitzgerald stated. "The fact that communities come together to better their schools is a reflection of the importance of education in Iowa."

Cities report 35% of all outstanding debt, with five cities (Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Coralville, Sioux City and Davenport) holding over 30% of the $5.3 billion reported.

Iowa counties report $859 million in debt with Polk County reporting nearly 30% of the total. Other entities with outstanding debt issues include state authorities with $2.1 billion and state agencies with $924 million. Counties, state authorities and agencies all decreased their debt in the last year.

"While the overall debt increase in Iowa is moderate, we make this information available to all Iowans by county so they can see the total debt and changes over the years in their own communities," Fitzgerald stated. Visit the state treasurer's office at and click 'Outstanding Obligation Report' under the 'For Governments' tab to view the report and additional information by a specific reporting entity.

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