By CARL GREEN
Springfield, IL – To create jobs and stimulate the sale of goods manufactured in Illinois and America, Illinois State Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea) is leading efforts to require Illinois government agencies to prioritize the purchase of Illinois-made and American-made products.
“When we buy goods made in Illinois or America, not only are we getting well-made products, we’re also creating jobs and spurring the local economy,” Hoffman said.
“It’s past time for the state to take the lead and give a serious boost to the mom-and-pop manufacturing firms that are vital to the state’s and nation’s economy. Our taxpayer dollars should be used to create jobs for us.”
Hoffman is the chief sponsor of a legislative package that works to ensure the state is buying Illinois-made or American-made products. The proposal includes safeguards that permit the purchase of items made outside of Illinois if the cost would be burdensome to Illinois taxpayers. American-made products would take precedence over any goods made overseas.
PLANT MANAGER TESTIFIES
Jason Bakk, a plant manager for Koppers Inc., an American manufacturer with multiple Illinois plants, testified in support of Hoffman’s proposals in a House hearing.
“We’ve seen a reduction in our carbon materials and chemicals business in the United States over the last 10 years, as our customer and supplier base has moved more and more operations overseas,” Bakk said. “These changes have affected jobs in our industry as well as of our customers and suppliers.”
The bills are designed to help Illinois and U.S. manufacturing firms like Koppers by prioritizing goods made in Illinois and America, creating jobs along the way.
“My proposal invests in products made by the hard-working people of Illinois,” Hoffman said. “These measures will put folks back to work, as more local jobs are created through investment in our communities. I urge my colleagues and the governor to support these proposals and vote for Illinois and U.S. jobs.”
The legislation would allow U.S. and Illinois products to cost up to 12 percent more. Design and final assembly would be in the state or the nation, and components would have to be at least 50 percent American. Pharmaceuticals would be excluded. Low-quality domestic products could be excluded.
Hoffman’s legislative package is comprised of amendments to House Bill 137 and House Bill 138. Both bills passed out of the State Government Administration Committee and were approved last week by the full House. No action has been taken in the Senate.
Co-sponsors include the group of six southern Illinois representatives who have stood together on numerous issues – Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville), Jerry Costello II (D-Red Bud), Dan Beiser (D-Alton), Brandon Phillips (D-Harrisburg) and LaToya Greenwood (D-East St. Louis), plus Hoffman.
Noted Stuart: “Every time we buy a product, we make a statement about our priorities and values. By buying American and buying Illinois, we are sending a message that our jobs and our workers are valued and vital to building a stronger economy.”
KEEP IT HERE
Another bill intended to keep jobs in Illinois is the Keep Illinois Business Act, House Bill 3538, which would disqualify any company that moves all or part of its business out of state from qualifying for any state credits, incentives or loans funded by taxpayers. They would also have to pay back any assistance previously received.
That bill was passed April 24 on a 64-48 vote in the House, largely along party lines. The southern Illinois group of six voted for it. It now moves on to the Senate. Stuart was the chief co-sponsor, and the other five were co-sponsors as well.
Said Hoffman: “If corporations send jobs out of the state, we need to hold them accountable and make sure they pay back any taxpayer incentives they received. Our taxpayer dollars should be spent to create jobs here in Illinois.”