Several Illinois legislators are pushing to bring more construction jobs to the state. A plan under consideration in the House would award tax credits to companies that put up new buildings or improve existing structures.
The Blue Collar Jobs Act would provide tax credits for building projects – something advocates say would help companies develop the workforce.
Oswego Republican, state Rep. Keith Wheeler, said the plan would impact areas throughout the state where large plants have closed down. He points to plant closures by companies like Caterpillar and Butterball in the 50th District – the area he represents. "We desperately need more economic development to create more jobs [there]. We need to have every tool available to put people to work," he said.
Wheeler said tax incentives would allow construction companies to come in and upgrade these abandoned facilities so they can be reused. He called this a win-win situation for not only the construction company but the workers who get to work on the projects and ultimately, the workers who get a permanent job working at that facility.
The tax incentives are similar to the current EDGE program – which is meant to encourage long-term job creation and investment in buildings and equipment. Wheeler said the new plan would focus on the construction jobs created during those building projects.
But the proposal was filed late in the session – more than two months after the deadline for the introduction of new bills. Currently, the plan has support from House Republicans. Wheeler said that even though it was an idea that came out of the GOP caucus, he would like to see bi-partisan support in the future.