Todd Maisch

Todd Maisch
Illinois Chamber of Commerce

After one year of Donald Trump’s presidency, the business community is largely pleased with the results: reductions in tax rates and a rollback of Obama-era environmental regulations. But there are concerns about the president's positions on immigration, and the general chaos of the White House.

For more on the business perspective of Trump's first year in office, I spoke with with Todd Maisch, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. I began by asking him what, from a business perspective, were the best things to come out of Washington this year.

road construction
Gary Brown via Flickr (gsbrown99)

Voters in the general election will be asked to weigh in on a proposed amendment to the state’s Constitution that would protect money set aside for transportation projects. The plan is sometimes referred to as the transportation funding lockbox amendment. 

Starved Rock State Park
courtesy Brian Mackey / all rights reserved

A key source of funding for the Department of Natural Resources could be blocked. Or maybe not.

Amanda Vinicky

Unions members flooded streets in front of the Illinois Statehouse to protest Governor Bruce Rauner's agenda, and what they say are his anti-labor policies.

Union workers marched to the capitol for a rally, where they were briefly joined by a pair of prominent Democrats: House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton.

There was a time (in recent memory) that the labor movement wasn't all too fond of Madigan. Though he's a Democrat, he helped pass bills cutting government worker pension benefits, and he's backed corporate tax breaks.

wikimedia

Legislators have ratified an amendment to the Illinois constitution but it's up to voters whether the provision will be enshrined in state law.

Over the years, when lawmakers have been short on cash for state needs, they've dipped into funds that are supposed to pay for infrastructure.

The idea is to put an end to that practice.

The proposed constitutional amendment would put transportation funding in a figurative "lock box."

Illinois Department of Revenue

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he isn't a billionaire, but he's not far off. Me? I'm Amanda Vinicky, statehouse bureau chief for Illinois Public Radio, and let's just say I've got a better chance of walking on the moon than ever making a billion bucks.

But both Rauner and I -- as does everyone else who lives in Illinois, no matter how rich or poor -- pay the same state income tax rate. The constitution requires a flat tax.

Some Illinois Democrats are moving to change that. 

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers are debating whether the wealthy should take on a bigger tax burden.

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan first surged the idea before last year's election, when .01-percenter Bruce Rauner was just a candidate.

Now, with Rauner as governor and calling for widespread cuts, Madigan has brought it back. He proposes adding a three-percent surcharge on all income over a million dollars, with the revenue going to schools.

Il Chamber

  A leading business group is hinting that it could loosen  its stance on opposition to a service tax.

During the campaign, Governor Bruce Rauner proposed a tax on certain services as a possible way to raise money.   The state Chamber of Commerce is gauging its members on what they could support when it comes to revenue for the state.

Sen. Dick Durbin
Hannah Meisel / WUIS

  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin wants companies exempt from offering birth control in their healthcare plans to make that known to potential employees.

It's a response to the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court last month, which determined certain business owners don't have to pay for contraceptives that violate their religious beliefs. These so-called "closely held" companies — typically small, family owned businesses — are exempt from the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate.

  An effort to change Illinois' income tax from a flat to a graduated structure is making headway in the General Assembly. The plan, where the more you earn the more you pay, has been revived after a setback last week.

When another proposal for a graduated income tax was up for debate last week, it was shot down before even getting to the floor. But Representative Christian Mitchell, a Democrat from Chicago, says his proposal is different: Its income-based tax brackets are lower than the previous version.