Business & Economy
Governor Quinn Signs Pro-Jobs Law to Extend Illinois Enterprise Zone Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Erin Wilson   
Tuesday, 07 August 2012 11:18

Law Provides Businesses with Greater Certainty, Will Boost Economic Development Across Illinois

CHICAGO – August 7, 2012. As part of his agenda to grow jobs and increase economic development across Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn today signed a new law to extend the Illinois Enterprise Zone program, a state and local partnership to encourage economic growth across the state. Senate Bill 3616 will create greater long-term stability for businesses, attract more investment in Illinois and protect the interests of taxpayers. The new law provides for a 25-year extension of the program, which creates a process for existing communities with zones and new communities to apply for the designation

“We want our businesses to invest, grow and put more Illinois residents to work,” Governor Quinn said. “This new law provides employers with the long-term certainty they need to grow, and strengthens oversight standards to ensure accountability from businesses that participate in the program.”

The new law makes three major changes to the state’s Enterprise Zone program:

  • Extends the sunset of the Illinois Enterprise Zone program 

The law extends the Enterprise Zone Program for 25 years, and creates a process for existing communities with zones and new communities to apply for the designation. Under the new procedure, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will accept and review all applications to determine if they meet three of 10 criteria to be certified as a zone, which includes unemployment rate, infrastructure, plant closure/job loss, education, poverty rates, and high commercial and industrial vacancy.

  • Creates an Enterprise Zone Board
    The Enterprise Zone Board will approve or deny enterprise zone applications certified and scored by DCEO. The board will consist of five members: the director of DCEO, or his or her designee, who shall serve as chairperson; the director of the Department of Revenue, or his or her designee; and three members appointed by the Governor.
  • Increases reporting requirements of companies receiving tax benefits from the Enterprise Zone and High Impact Business programs

The law increases accountability by requiring that any business receiving tax incentives due to its location within an enterprise zone or its designation as a High Impact Business must annually report the total Enterprise Zone or High Impact Business tax benefits received. The report must be broken down by incentive category and enterprise zone, to the Department of Revenue. Failure to report data shall result in ineligibility to receive incentives.

SB3616, sponsored by Sen. Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign) and Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), passed the General Assembly unanimously and was supported by many in the business community, including the Illinois Municipal League, Caterpillar, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Manufacturers Association. The new law renews the Illinois Enterprise Zone program, which is one of the state’s most vital economic tools. During its history, 42,543 businesses have invested in enterprise zones. Businesses located in enterprise zones have created 354,762 jobs and retained 536,562 jobs. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 43 states, including Illinois, have enterprise zone programs under a variety of different program names.

“By helping our communities become enterprise zones, we are giving them a leg up on the competition in drawing companies to their areas, “ said Rep. Bradley. “I would like to thank Governor Quinn for signing this law to help bring businesses to every corner of Illinois.”

“The Illinois enterprise zone program is a vital tool for growing jobs and attracting investment in Illinois. We applaud Governor Quinn and the General Assembly for taking action and sending a positive message to the business community,” said Greg Baise, president & CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, a statewide business group representing nearly 4,000 companies. “Enacting a long-term extension of this successful program is another step in making Illinois a good place to do business and providing stability for employers.” 

“As economic developers, we compete every day for jobs and investment with locations throughout the country and around the world and the Illinois Enterprise Zone program has kept us in the game for nearly 30 years,” said Craig Coil, president of the Illinois Enterprise Zone Association and the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur & Macon County. “By passing and signing this bill, Governor Quinn and the General Assembly have helped all of us who are involved in economic development in Illinois and the communities we represent remain competitive for the foreseeable future.”

“We are listening to what companies say they need to thrive,” said David Vaught, acting director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. “They tell us that the Illinois Enterprise Zone program is one of the most effective economic development tools in the state’s tool box. By extending the program for 25 years, companies have a predictable environment in which they can create jobs and fuel economic growth.”

SB 3616 is effective immediately. The Governor will make stops today in Chicago, Rockford, Quad Cities, Peoria, Decatur and Mount Vernon to highlight the new law that will boost economic growth in communities across Illinois.

For more information on why Illinois is the right place for business, visit http://illinoisbiz.biz.

 

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Whose prosperity is it anyways? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Americans for Limited Government   
Tuesday, 07 August 2012 11:03
Whose prosperity is it anyway?

By Howard Rich

Who gets credit for Sergei Rachmaninoff's famous Piano Concerto No. 2?  The composer?  Or should we really thank the manufacturer of the piano he used while performing it?  What about the Declaration of Independence?  Does the credit go to Thomas Jefferson?  Or does our debt of gratitude go to whoever produced the paper and ink products used in its drafting?

What about when Americans mow their yards on the weekends?  Is it their hard work and sweat that gets the job done? Or should the credit instead go to Edwin Budding, who invented the first lawnmower in the early nineteenth century?

Questions like these have become increasingly relevant in light of Barack Obama's infamous "you didn't build that" remark — which suggested that Americans who own their own businesses somehow aren't responsible for the success of those businesses.

"If you've got a business — you didn't build that," Obama said. "Somebody else made that happen."

In the narrowest of senses Obama is correct — just as Mitt Romney was correct a decade ago when he asserted that participants at the Salt Lake City Olympics "didn't get here solely on (their) own power."

Obviously nothing is ever built or achieved in a vacuum — because none of us exist in a vacuum.   We all have mothers and fathers, and in addition to the genes they passed along to us we all take something from the people, resources and experiences we are exposed to over the course of our lives.  Similarly, we all subsist in some measure thanks to the work of others — who in turn subsist in some measure on what we produce (although the number of "takers" in our society grows with each new government expansion).

Even more fundamentally — as the ink on the Declaration of Independence reminds us — we have all been endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, although once again these fundamental liberties will continue to contract as the state expands.

In acknowledging this basic human interdependence, however, we must not bow to the collectivist dogma that Obama and his fellow command economists are pushing as part of their effort to "spread the wealth around." With a deficit approaching $16 trillion, we simply can't afford to do that.  More importantly we cannot let them continue to confuse the free market's promise of equal opportunity with government desire for equal outcomes.

Interdependence does not mean that people are entitled to equal, or even similar outcomes — it is simply a means of letting the free market fill needs and satisfy wants with maximum efficiency, thereby maximizing prosperity.  Indeed government efforts to impose equal outcomes will only suppress the market forces responsible for raising everyone's level of prosperity.  They will also dramatically expand the scope — and cost — of taxpayer-subsidized dependence, perpetuating a downward spiral.

That's why "you didn't build that" is so dangerous.   It is more than just a metaphor for Obama's collectivist vision — it is a rebuke of American exceptionalism, another attempt by the New Keynesians to separate Americans from their innovative capacity and the wealth, jobs and investment that capacity creates.

Get full story here.


The wheel of insanity


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Lies, damned lies and statistics—Obama version

By Rick Manning

As originally published at TheHill.com.

The monthly release of the nation's unemployment data never ceases to amaze and, in some perverse way, amuse. Here are just a couple of examples that just make you scratch your head.

The unemployment rate for all workers went up to 8.3 percent in the month, but the rate for every ethnic group that is broken down by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics either went down or remained stable.

That's right — whites were stable at 7.4 percent unemployment, Hispanic unemployment dropped by .7 percent, African-American unemployment dropped .3 percent and Asian-American unemployment went down .1 percent.

So, if every ethnic group remained stable or had their unemployment rate drop, it must be presumed that the unemployment rate of Martians went through the roof for the month of July. 

When you add the numbers up, you discover that due to rounding, the unemployment rate amongst whites, the largest group by far, only appears to remain stable. In June, the rate was actually 7.358, and in July it was 7.427, meaning that the rate actually is more than .069% higher, but when rounded to the first decimal point appears to be the same.  

Here's another one: the BLS reported in the same employment situation report that the economy created 163,000 jobs in July from their establishment survey, but there were 195,000 fewer people employed from their household survey.

President Obama was saved from a really embarrassing unemployment rate increase by the 348,000 people who fled the workforce in the month and hence were not counted as unemployed or even a part of the overall workforce population.

The website ZeroHedge explains the 163,000 job gains through an excellent analysis of the BLS' aggressive seasonal adjustment, where the agency made the largest seasonal addition for a July NFP print in the past decade. The addition by BLS of 377,000 jobs for seasonal purposes is the saving grace of the report, and may explain how they could have a 358,000 disparity between the number of people employed and the number of jobs "created."

Get full story here.


Hypocrisy of the political left funding machine

By Rachel Swaffer

One year.  Three charitable non-profits.  $668 million dollars. These numbers merely scratch the surface of the financial behemoth that is bankrolling liberal policy, political activism, the U.S. educational system, the current environmental jihad, labor and union interests, as well as economic equality and social justice advocates.

In fact, if political funding was an Olympic sport, the Ford Foundation alone would make Michael Phelps' medal collection look like spare change; because when it comes to funding liberal causes, Ford consistently wins gold.  According to 2010 tax records, Ford is the top non-profit donor to economic and social equality causes, minority rights advocates, healthcare reform efforts, media, and LGBT issues as well as the second highest financial supporter of liberal funding and support organizations, American Universities, progressive political activism, women's issues, organized labor, criminal justice reform, and foreign policy.

In other words, Ford Foundation is a top donor to all progressive and leftist political causes.

The Hewlett Foundation donated even more money to liberal organizations than Ford Foundation in 2010 — to an almost as broad cross-section of causes.  They donated over $256,000,000 and are the top benefactors of environmental activism, higher education, women's issues, progressive foreign policy, and youth advocacy organizations; additionally, the Hewlett Foundation is the second highest private sector donor to public education advocacy and support, according to 2010 tax records.

The bronze medal in progressive bankrolling goes to George Soros' Open Society network (comprised of the Institute for Open Society and Foundation to Promote Open Society) which is a top financier of criminal justice reform, social justice, economic equality, and minority rights advocates, healthcare reform, political activism and US media.  According to tax records, the Open Society network gave $190,797,978 to progressive activists and advocates in 2010.

While MediaMatters and other liberal/progressive organizations constantly attack conservative funders for supporting political organizations that they believe in, their accusatory figures are aggregated over ten to twenty year time spans.   The astronomical numbers you see on the left side, however, require no aggregation; these organizations spend hundreds of millions of dollars in a single year — far surpassing private spending by right leaning organizations.

For instance, the top three liberal funding giants alone: the Ford Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Open Society organizations are responsible for the combined $668,248,977 granted to top liberal and progressive causes in 2010, according to tax records.

At that's just the tip of the iceberg: 37 different non-profits gave over $1,000,000 a piece to liberal and progressive organizations in 2010, according to the latest 990 tax forms.

In comparison, according to MediaMatter's own "Conservative Transparency" data, the Scaife foundation gave around $17 million to conservative organizations in 1993, the Claude R. Lambe Foundation (the most political branch of Koch philanthropy) gave about $2.5 million in 2010, and the Kirby Foundation gave a grand total of $1 million over a period of 23 years.   Clearly, these numbers are nowhere near the hundreds of millions coming out of organizations like the Sandler, Hewlett, or Ford Foundation each year, according to tax records.

It seems that, rather than buying-off American politics, conservative organizations are merely treading water, attempting to keep from drowning in the influx of liberal millions.

Get full story here.

 
The Great Credit Conundrum PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Americans for Limited Government   
Monday, 06 August 2012 14:34
The Great Credit Conundrum

By Robert Romano

As originally published at RealClearMarkets.com.

The Federal Reserve shocked markets on Aug. 1 when it decided to do nothing. Do nothing new, that is. Particularly, no QE3 — i.e. a third round of quantitative easing, or printing money to purchase U.S. treasuries and other securities.

Markets immediately started tanking, and continued, through Aug. 2 before finally recovering on Aug. 3. Traders apparently wanted another temporary sugar high from the nation's central bank and didn't get it.

Oh well, not that it matters all that much.

As if the Fed taking on another $500 billion or so of federal government debt would have magically turned the economy around any more so than the previous $860 billion of such purchases since Aug. 2007 has.

To print, or not to print?

Even some more conservative pundits were distraught, such as Bloomberg View columnist Caroline Baum, usually a hawk on monetary policy, who advocated for the Fed to "consider more outright purchases of treasuries… Yes, print money. There, I said it."

Baum wrote she is "thinking differently" about monetary policy, but has not reached any conclusions yet. What promoted her new, potential outlook was a recent book by Robert Hetzel, senior economist and research adviser at the Richmond Fed, entitled, "The Great Recession: Market Failure or Policy Failure?"

In it, Hetzel takes the view that monetary policy — even with the Fed's gross expansion of its balance sheet from $869 billion in 2007 to $2.8 trillion today, more than tripling it in just a few short years — is too tight, and has "simply accommodated the increased demand for bank excess reserves."

To be certain, deposits held by Federal Reserve banks on behalf of financial institutions have exploded from $13.4 billion in 2007 to more than $1.5 trillion today. Therefore, it is hard to argue with Hetzel's conclusion that most of QE1 and QE2 is just sitting in a vault.

Probably the reason for that is as a hedge against any new losses that pop up in the wake of the financial crisis, which as Europe is discovering, may just be clearing its throat. Leaving that aside, if one views current policy as being too tight, one opens the door for more credit expansion.

But how much money-printing would be necessary to restore economic growth seen in the past 60 years?

Doubling down

Previously, Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson has examined the relationship between credit expansion in the U.S. and the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) since World War II in a piece entitled, "Can the economy grow without debt?"

In it, Wilson observes that the relationship between debt and economic growth between 1945 and 1970 was relatively stable. Throughout that period, credit outstanding nationwide hovered between 140 to 167 percent of GDP.

Get full story here.


Maine's shot across Obamacare's bow

By John Vinci

As originally published at ObamacareWatcher.org.

The state of Maine on Aug. 1, 2012, sent a shot across the bow of Obamacare in the form of a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius.[1] The letter requests a reduction to Maine's Medicaid eligibility threshold by Sept. 1, 2012 and threatens to sue if the Obama Administration does not agree to the changes. The letter, written by Maine Governor Paul LePage asserts Maine's right not to be coerced by the federal government—a right confirmed by the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision, NFIB v. Sebelius, not quite two months ago.

Gov. LePage hopes the proposed changes, expected to save Maine nearly $20 million, will help solve Maine's fiscal woes.[2]

But a provision of Obamacare, called the "maintenance of effort" (MOE) requirement, bans states from lowering their Medicaid eligibility threshold until they establish a state health exchange. [3] Just like the Medicaid expansion requirement declared unconstitutional by a vote of seven to two justices at the Supreme Court, States that violate the MOE requirement risk losing all Medicaid funding.[4]

The Wall Street Journal reported that "within hours" of the Supreme Court's decision in NFIB v. Sebelius,  Maine's Attorney General's office was studying what effect the case might have on Obamacare's MOE requirement.  After studying the issue, the state's Attorney General, William Schneider, says he's convinced that Maine's challenge to Obamacare is "on solid legal ground."[5]

"The state of Maine is taking the right step in boldly challenging the Obama Administration's threat to cut off all federal Medicaid funding due to the state's decision to lower their Medicaid liabilities," said Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG).

Early reports of Maine's requested change claimed that HHS[6] and the Congressional Research Service (CRS)[7] disagree with Maine.  But HHS and CRS did not then have the benefit of seeing Maine's legal analysis.  In a July 11, 2012, letter to Health and Human Services (HHS), Gov. LePage told HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, that he believed she would "reserve judgment until the law and facts are fully-presented."[8]

Now that Maine has presented the "law and the facts" we know that it has two arguments.

First, Maine argues that Obamacare's MOE requirement is "part and parcel" of its Medicaid expansion provision and thus was struck along with that provision.

Get full story here.


 

Commentary: Big Government's battle with Chick-fil-A has unintended consequences

Video by Frank McCaffrey

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Tea Party scores another win in Texas

By Duane Miller

Conservatives selected a candidate for senator in Texas this week.  What are called "grassroots-conservatives" celebrated the election.  Ted Cruz, a political unknown one year ago, defeated Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, handily.  Dewhurst represented the Republican establishment.  He was an office-holder, had name recognition, endorsements of the expected GOP names, and much more money.  It is said that Dewhurst spent more than $20 million of his own money on his campaign.

Both men called themselves "conservative."  And, compared to Democrats, both are.  The difference is that Cruz is representative of a movement in America that is fed up with the Go-Along-to-Get-Along compromise-and-defend politics of the Republican Party over the past several years.

Voters turned out in record numbers in Texas for a runoff election held in July.  The totally unheard of voting participation resulted in Cruz winning by double digits.  Money and connections lost to a grass-roots activist base of voters.  Called a "Tea Party Tidal Wave" by some pundits, the victory by Cruz should be an alarm bell for Speaker Boehner and the rest of the Republicans currently holding office or desiring election to office.

Ted Cruz was not the only beneficiary in runoff elections.  "Grassroots Conservatives" won in other Texas races as well as in other states.  In Atlanta, Georgia, a penny increase in the sales tax to fund transportation projects was a major priority for the sitting Republican governor.  It was defeated by 26 points.  True conservatives are angry with wimpy leadership and rising taxes.  The message that is being clearly sent to the establishment republicans is, "represent our interests or get tossed."

Conservatives Have Had It With Do-Nothing Leadership

For decades, the Republicans were the minority party in both the House and Senate.  The Democrats ran everything and the minority party had very little influence.  About the only way a Republican could get his name in the paper was to do something completely outrageous or co-sponsor a Democrat bill.

Then came 1994 and the "Contract With America" that brought Republicans a majority in Congress and an opportunity to lead.  The "Contract" election was the first stirring of conservative sentiment, but traditional media vilified the Republicans, called them, "Obstructionists," the Republicans did nothing to fight back, and, at the next election the Democrats gained 9 seats in the House.  Conservatives were taught to be seen-and-not-heard, their opinions are irrelevant, and that Republicans must behave.

Conservatives choked back their anger, even with "compassionate conservatism," but then Barack Obama was elected and "hope and change" came to the White House.  This President has been the most polarizing in our lifetime.  His disregard for the Constitution and the legislative process; his disdain for the family unit and for the values embraced by most Americans (who comprise the real "mainstream"); his spending policies that will bankrupt this nation sooner rather than later; all have worked to breathe life into what was believed to be a dead body….the Conservative American voter.

Get full story here.

 
USDA Directory Records More Than 7,800 Farmers Markets PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Monday, 06 August 2012 14:05
National Resource Helps More Americans Connect with Local Farmers

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2012 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced a 9.6 percent increase in National Farmers Market Directory listings as the kickoff to National Farmer's Market Week. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's directory, a database published online at farmersmarkets.usda.gov, identifies 7,864 farmers markets operating throughout the United States. The information collected in the directory is self-reported data provided voluntarily by farmers market managers through an annual outreach effort. Last year, USDA's directory listed 7,175 markets.

"Farmers markets are a critical ingredient to our nation's food system," said Merrigan. "These outlets provide benefits not only to the farmers looking for important income opportunities, but also to the communities looking for fresh, healthy foods. The directory is an online tool that helps connect farmers and consumers, communities and businesses around the country."

The top states, in terms of the number of markets reported in the directory, include California (827 markets), New York (647 markets), Massachusetts (313 markets), Michigan (311 markets), Wisconsin (298 markets), Illinois (292 markets), Ohio (264 markets), Pennsylvania (254 markets), Virginia and Iowa (tied with 227 markets) and North Carolina (202 markets). Together they account for nearly half (49 percent) of the farmers markets listed in the 2012 directory.

Geographic regions like the mid-Atlantic (Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia), the Northeast (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont), and the Southeast (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee) saw large increases in their listings, reporting, 15.8, 14.4 and 13.1 percent more markets, respectively.

USDA has taken several steps to help small and mid-sized farmers as part of the department's commitment to support local and regional food systems, and increase consumer access to fresh, healthy food in communities across the country. For example,

  • USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), is outfitting more farmers markets with the ability to accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps), announcing $4 million dollars in available funding to equip farmers' markets with wireless point-of-sale equipment. Currently, over 2,500 farmers markets are using Electronic Benefit Transfer technology.
  • USDA recently released the 2.0 version of its KYF Compass, a digital guide to USDA resources related to local and regional food systems. The updated version includes new data sets to help consumers locate local food resources, such as farmers markets, and plot them on an interactive map.

Many markets will host fun activities to celebrate National Farmers Market Week including pie contests, festivals, cooking demonstrations, events for kids, raffle drawings and giveaways. USDA officials will visit markets around the country between Aug. 5 and Aug. 11, to honor growers and commemorate National Farmers Market Week.

The USDA National Farmers Market Directory is available at farmersmarkets.usda.gov. Users can search for markets based on location, available products, and types of payment accepted, including participation in federal nutrition programs. Directory features allow users to locate markets based on proximity to zip code, mapping directions and links to active farmers market websites. Customized datasets can also be created and exported for use by researchers and software application designers.

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Get the latest Agricultural Marketing Service news at www.ams.usda.gov/news or follow us on Twitter @USDA_AMS. You can also read about us on the USDA blog.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).


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Loebsack Statement on Department of Labor’s July Jobs Report PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Joe Hand   
Monday, 06 August 2012 08:55

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Dave Loebsack today issued the following statement in response to the Department of Labor’s announcement that the unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent in July and 163,000 jobs were added.

“The American people did not elect Members of Congress to continually fail to do their jobs and kick the can down the road on critical issues such as job creation or a reformed farm bill. But with the Republicans choosing to pack up and get out of town a day early for five weeks of vacation instead of getting to work on the critical issues facing Iowans, once again politics have won out at the expense of middle class families and Iowa’s rural communities.

“I have worked to pass numerous commonsense initiatives, including a reformed farm bill that will help provide certainty and assistance to farmers during this historic drought and economic growth for rural Iowa communities.  Today’s announcement just further demonstrates that Congress must stop bucking its responsibilities and get to work, as I have repeatedly called on the House Majority to do.”

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