Report from state task force on jobs is too flawed to be starting point for public policy

How are we supposed to implement reforms when the state’s largest pro-business organizations’ concerns were marginalized and largely omitted from the final report?

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A hiring notice posted at a Lowe’s home improvement store in Northbrook.

A hiring notice posted at a Lowe’s home improvement store in Northbrook. A state task force’s report is flawed and should not be the basis for setting policy, two legislators write.

AP

When the Legislature approved the Illinois Future of Work Task Force, a framework was created so stakeholders could work collaboratively to assess the state’s economy and labor market and identify policies to help businesses, workers, and communities thrive. 

As the Senate and House Republican appointees to the task force, we looked forward to a robust exchange of ideas, as we examined data and created a list of recommended policy proposals.

The panel’s final report was recently released. While we support some aspects of the report, we are disappointed that a fractured process excluded legitimate concerns from this state’s most prominent business groups, including the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA), Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), Mid-West Truckers Association and Illinois Farm Bureau.

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Together, these groups represent thousands of businesses employing millions of Illinoisans. Because their voices were marginalized, we joined nearly every pro-business representative on the task force in voting against the final report.

Across numerous economic sectors, COVID-19 fundamentally shifted how business is conducted, how businesses interact with customers, and how they engage, operate, and build their workforces. The panel had a responsibility to look at all aspects of the workforce and recommend policies that address every sector of the economy, not just those that advance a specific political agenda.

The task force also had a responsibility to be transparent and provide ample opportunities for public participation. Unfortunately, flawed processes made that nearly impossible. Legal requirements for administrative support were not followed, and responsibilities statutorily assigned to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity were delegated — without authority — to two registered, progressive lobbyists that had a stake in the outcomes.

Equally concerning, most of the report’s 58 policy recommendations were never discussed or voted on at a task force meeting. They just miraculously appeared in the final report.

Most alarming, those who compiled the final report took a joint letter from the State and Chicagoland Chambers, IMA and IRMA, and redacted — without permission — some less-than-complimentary paragraphs before inserting it into the final report.

How are we supposed to implement reforms when the state’s largest pro-business organizations’ concerns were marginalized and largely omitted from the final report? For all of these reasons, we believe the final task force report should not be considered a valid starting point for public policy discussions in the General Assembly

State Sen. Donald DeWitte (R-St. Charles)
State Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria)
Co-chairs, Future of Work Task Force

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