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Small business advocates call on Rauner to obey his own law

castro 020718SPRINGFIELD – Advocates for small business are calling on Gov. Bruce Rauner to better implement a law he signed but has thus far neglected to enforce.

State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) sponsored a law to ensure businesses benefiting from tax credits are taking care to do business with companies that are minority- or woman-owned. The legislation requires any business receiving an EDGE tax credit report on its supplier diversity numbers to the state.

 

While the bill passed the Illinois Senate unanimously and met little opposition in the House, Gov. Rauner’s hand-picked agency heads have chosen to apply the law to new applicants for the tax credit only, rather than all existing applicants.

“It’s outrageous that Gov. Rauner would sign this bill then instruct his departments to act like it doesn’t exist,” Castro said. “We passed this legislation to get a better look at our state’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of encouraging economic diversity, and there’s no way we can do that if the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity does not enforce compliance with the law.”

While the law requires each EDGE credit claimant to submit an annual report containing supplier diversity information by April 15 each year, none have been provided to the DCEO. Those reports are required to include a plan to increase diverse participation, the areas each company is looking to improve, a plan to encourage potential vendor participation, an explanation of challenges faced in finding quality vendors and how the commission can help obtain them and more.

State Senator Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago) has called several hearings on supplier diversity in recent months, and he said the agency’s lack of compliance is par for the course when it comes to supplier diversity.

“We spend all this time passing legislation to advance the cause of supplier diversity, yet the state’s department heads refuse to comply,” Sandoval, co-chair of the Latino Caucus, said. “At some point, the governor has to enforce this compliance from his agency directors or we are going to have to pass legislation giving the General Assembly greater authority to enforce compliance.”

Sandoval has scheduled another meeting of the Special Committee on Supplier Diversity for from 12:30-4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27 at the Bilandic Building in Chicago.

“We’re going to continue to apply the pressure,” Sandoval said. “Because I’m sick of hearing the excuses for why companies receiving tax breaks from the state can’t find any minorities worthy of working for them.”

Sen. Cristina Castro

Senator Cristina Castro

22nd Senate District

Years served: 2017 - Present

Committee assignments: Appropriations I; Commerce and Economic Development; Committee of the Whole; Energy and Public Utilities; Labor; Revenue (Vice-Chairperson); Transportation; Veterans Affairs (Chairperson).

Associated Representative(s):
Anna Moeller
Fred Crespo