Legislative Coffee With Senator Neil Anderson, Representative Michael Halpin, and Representative Tony McCombie

Altered Realty Team had the great opportunity to meet and greet with leaders of the Quad Cities area to discuss the direction that the State of Illinois is heading in. The panel consisted of Senator Neil Anderson (36th district), Representative Michael Halpin (72nd district), and Representative Tony McCombie (71st district).  This blog is the perception that our team took in from the information shared at this meeting.

Budget Crisis:

A major issue that was discussed is the budget crisis. Senator Neil Anderson was glad to see that the Governor was pushing more spending to K-12 and higher education, but was very concerned that problems were only being “addressed” and not applying appropriate solutions. He called it “kicking the can down the road” meaning the Governor wants to continue to tax and borrow and keep pushing the resolution to the problem out to the future, like past legislatures. Senator Anderson also states underfunding pensions as part of this resolution is not okay. Representative Tony McCombie agreed with this. She believes that we need to pay the pension dollar now.  Just like our own bills at home, we need to pay them first then get our luxuries like Starbucks if there is remaining. Representative Michael Halpin said it is not just a pension problem, but a pension DEBT problem.

Minimum Wage and Boosting Illinois Economy:

All three are fighting hard to keep the growth in Illinois bordering Iowa staying in Illinois and putting dollars into education. One way this could happen is taking the $15 minimum wage change and putting into educational funding. SB1 is ineffective and detrimental to those that it is supposed to help, as Rep. McCombie states. High school students and college students will no longer be able to go work as they once could due to the increase in wage that will make business owners want more experience and qualifications. This is the largest unfunded mandate on small business and communities in the nation. Their fear of this wage increase passing is businesses will go across the bridge to Iowa to a lower minimum wage and a lower workers compensation. If dollars are being invested, they should be invested to fill the gap to give people education to get out of entry level jobs to more skilled jobs. This can be done through workforce. Currently workforce development is happening privately through community colleges because they become tired of waiting for the state to step in.  Getting young people to work and touring through factories to keep them in their areas of what they enjoy and are good at will help keep them out of college debt and making money quicker, which in turn boosts the economy. This would also need to include changing testing metrics to match vocational schooling, as stated by another Chambers Member.

To end the meeting, they confirmed that the state is pushing forward with the train coming into Moline and making sure it is fully funded and is a priority and hoping to get more of a private public partnership involved. They are working to create a balanced conversation in office, a balanced budged, and confirmed new markets in gambling and the legalization of marijuana. There were no set specified timeframes in today’s talk.

Senator Neil Anderson, Representative Michael Halpin, and Representative Tony McCombie all share hope that with a new governor and fresh legislative sessions that they can bring changes to the table.

Local Statistics:

In addition, here are statements from Representative McCombie’s website that go in further detail:

The $15 minimum wage will be detrimental to not only area businesses, but non-profits, government entities and taxpayers:

  • According to the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, 82% of the members oppose raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and 86% of members believe raising the minimum wage would have a negative impact on their business;
  • Local non-profits, have reached out saying they would have to shut down or greatly reduce services;
    • Non-profits do not benefit from the tax credit either;
  • Schools and local governments have reached out to say summer jobs would be the first cuts – hurting students looking for summer work, and low skilled workers looking to break into the workforce;
  • In 2025, the budgetary costs will increase to $1.1 billion in direct wages, annually;
  • Nursing homes will need to have an increase of $1.5 billion Medicaid reimbursement costs;
  • The State University System estimates over $100 million in increased costs annually – something neither the state, universities, or students can afford:
    • Western Illinois University: $4.4 million
    • Augustana College: $2.6 million
  • The Community College system would see similar budgetary impacts:
    • Black Hawk College: approximately $2.5Mil over the 6 years, with a recurring cost of $750,000 per year thereafter.
    • Highland Community College: $400,000
  • Blog By Altered Realty