MORRIS – The area’s elected officials discussed pension reform, point of sale legislation and the graduated income tax over coffee and eggs Tuesday morning at the Grundy Economic Development Council’s annual Legislative Breakfast.
More than 100 local officials and business representatives gathered at the Morris Country Club for the event sponsored by Exelon.
“This is the chance for our legislative leaders to share with us the important issues being addressed in Washington and Springfield,” GEDC CEO Nancy Norton Ammer said to the crowd. “But conversely, this is also our opportunity as business and community leaders to voice our concerns, share our ideas and priorities with our elected leaders.”
This year’s panel of officials included state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, state Rep. Kate Cloonen, D-Kankakee, state Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, and Seth Jansen, a staff member of U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon. Kinzinger was unable to attend.
State Rep. John Anthony, R-Plainfield, also was absent from the event because of a family emergency, Ammer said.
Each official was given about 10 minutes to talk about the issues in his or her respective district before fielding questions from the audience.
A predominant point of discussion was the current point of sale problems, which affect several cities within each official’s district.
Channahon and Morris – and other municipalities throughout the state – are being sued by the Regional Transit Authority for using taxing strategies that enticed companies to open small purchasing offices within Grundy County to take advantage of the county’s low sales tax rate.
The RTA claims the sales tax revenue generated at these remote purchasing offices should rightfully go to Cook County, which it believes houses a more significant portion of the companies in question.
The Illinois Department of Revenue recently issued emergency rules aiming to eliminate the taxing strategies by defining where and how the point of a sales transaction should be determined.
Hutchinson called the RTA lawsuits “harassing” and said she is teaming up with Rezin and several other state legislators to combat the IDOR’s new rules.
“We have some proposed legislation, but we also have some very, very strong opponents,” Hutchinson said. “This is a battle that’s ongoing.”
Rezin added that they find the IDOR’s rules to be overly vague and provide the IDOR with too much authority.
“The rules that the Department of Revenue want to implement really leave the door open for the Department of Revenue to interpret,” Rezin said. “That’s a problem.”
Hutchinson and Rezin said it could be a long time before any progress is made on the issue, which has been ongoing for three years.
Cloonen agreed with the senators and said she also is working to fight the proposed rules.
“It’s tough for these companies,” she said. “Not only are they being audited, they’re being harassed with these lawsuits.”
Cloonen and Rezin also touched on conceal-carry permits, encouraging those in attendance to visit their offices to learn more about the new law.
Rezin also highlighted some successful, local initiatives including the Grundy Area Vocational Center’s summer internship program and her project to start a nuclear program at the local colleges.
“We should be training [students] in this area. Their families live here and we’d like to keep them here,” Rezin said.
All of the legislators encouraged the local leaders in the crowd to remain vocal about state issues.
“I think a takeaway from today – at least in my perspective – is that you get the democracy you deserve,” Ammer said. “You guys are all sitting here this morning, participating, and I appreciate that.”