The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) said Illinois’ lack of competitive economic policies, not proposed economic reforms, is weighing on the state’s middle class.

IMA’s Mark Denzler said some state lawmakers have blasted Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed economic reforms as something that is hurting the middle class, but Denzler said it’s the status quo that is really doing harm. 

“We hear legislators all the time say they’re standing up for the middle class, but quite frankly, their policies have been destroying middle-class jobs.”

The IMA said Illinois’ manufacturing sector is anemic and that reforms are needed to bring jobs back. 
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It’s not just workers’ comp reforms or controlling soaring property taxes that need to be addressed, Denzler said.. The state’s manufacturers need research-and-development tax-credit certainty. “They’re looking five, 10, 15 and even 20 years down the road, and the fact that this is turned on and off four times in the last 13 years just gives them no stability and predictability.”

Denzler said some manufacturers are moving their R&D operations to other states that offer R&D tax credits, adding to the exodus of manufacturing jobs from Illinois. 

IMA President and CEO Greg Baise said the fight for increasing the minimum wage isn’t the answer to bring back more good paying jobs. He says policies to grow the manufacturing sector will. “The ‘Fight for $15’ creates $31,000 a year jobs. What we’re fighting for on average is$74,000-a-year jobs and a sector of the state’s economy that is still 12.5 percent of the state’s (gross domestic product).”

Baise said he’s hopeful all sides can bring about economic reforms and a budget that pays the state’s bills after Nov. 8. 

“We’ve been able to make progress in this building when both sides come together, maybe not get everything you want, but move the ball forward, and that’s what I hope occurs after this election.”

IMA said Illinois has lost nearly 305,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000. Since the 2009 recession ended, IMA said Illinois has created only 4,600 compared with neighboring states like Michigan (171,300), Indiana (83,700), Ohio (75,900) and Wisconsin (44,100).
(Copyright WBGZ /