Business owners from across the state are sounding off on Illinois’ high property taxes and the cost of the state’s workers’ compensation system, saying these costs are holding them back.

During a roundtable discussion May 19 in Springfield with Gov. Bruce Rauner, Selvaggio Steel President Mark Selvaggio said workers’ compensation costs are much higher in Illinois than in Indiana. Selvaggio said his company could save $60,000 a year if it were in Indiana.

Morgan County farmer Jay Harris said employees are very important. “But I’d rather put that money in their pocket and hire one more employee than pay the workmen’s comp that we do,” Harris said.

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Earlier this week at a similar discussion in Wheeling, Keats Manufacturing’s Matt Eggemeyer said his company is getting pressure from customers to find a lower-cost state. “When a customer says, ‘We’re going to pull the work unless you move to Texas or you move to Mexico,’ what do we do?”

Keats Manufacturing President and CEO Wade Keats said his property taxes have nearly doubled over the past 10 years.

“I’m not getting twice the service for the money, I can guarantee you that, and that’s a huge part of my overhead,” Keats said.

Mark Strang is a Greene County farmer and a county board member. At the roundtable discussion May 19 in Springfield, Strang said property taxes are too high because local governments can’t control costs. Strang said an area fire district planned a new firehouse. But the district couldn’t afford to pay the state-required prevailing wage, so the project didn’t happen.
“Nobody got to build the firehouse. The union employees didn’t get the prevailing-wage job. The builders that were going to do it nonunion didn’t get the job. The builder didn’t sell the building,” Strang said.

A working group of lawmakers is being set up to discuss workers’ compensation and a property-tax freeze, coupled with local cost controls.


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