Illinois chamber leader calling for lower taxes and reduced spending
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain email@example.com April 10, 2012 3:32PM
Updated: May 12, 2012 8:07AM
JOLIET — Doug Whitley, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, said he breathed a sigh of relief in March when Gov. Rod Blagojevich finally went to jail.
Whitley said he hoped the state’s corrupt image would finally begin to wane.
But in the weeks following Blagojevich’s incarceration, Cook County Commissioner William Beavers was indicted on federal tax evasion charges and state Rep. Derrick Smith was charged with bribery.
The state’s image will continue to suffer as long as these kinds of stories keep coming out of Illinois, Whitley said Monday at a Joliet Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
“We’re not going to get over this tarnish in the short term,” he said.
Public relations isn’t the only battle the state has to fight, Whitley said. Elected officials also have to take bold action to lower taxes and reduce spending on public pensions and Medicaid and continue to reform workers’ compensation. The Legislature passed workers’ compensation reforms last year, but they didn’t go far enough, Whitley said.
Re-establishing financial integrity in the state should be the No. 1 goal of all elected officials, he said.
“We need governmental officials to act like the business managers they really are,” he said.
Not all the news is bad, said Whitley.
“Will County is one of the best spots in the state of Illinois,” he said. “Obviously, the intermodals are key to all of it.”
And Illinois is one of the leading states for manufacturing, which is something that should be touted nationwide, he said.
Whitley urged all elected officials in the state to fight for more infrastructure funding, which will help retain jobs and attract new companies to the state for years to come.
“Investing in infrastructure is like planting trees,” he said. “We don’t do it for ourselves.”
He called for more training for the state’s workers so they can be ready for jobs that exist now or could be created in the future.
“The fact of the matter is, there are jobs going begging,” he said.
Finally, Whitley urged small business owners in the state to contribute to the political campaigns of candidates that will get the state back on the right track.
“The business voice needs to be heard,” he said.