Middle-class economic agenda pushed by Senate DemocratsSPRINGFIELD – Families with college students would qualify for increased tuition tax credits, the minimum wage would gradually rise to $11 an hour and millions worth of corporate tax loopholes would be closed under a legislative agenda Illinois Senate Democrats are rallying behind as negotiations with Governor Rauner have stalled.

“When I talk to working families, their concerns are about how they make life better for their children and themselves while their wages have consistently decreased or stayed flat in a time of record corporate profits. It’s time to focus on issues that will improve the quality of life and open doors of opportunity. That’s a real turnaround agenda,” said Senator Toi Hutchinson, a Chicago Heights Democrat.

The unveiled agenda contains five key provisions:

•    Tuition Tax Credit. Qualified parents or students who are Illinois residents can claim a tax credit for higher education expenses incurred at any qualified public or private university, community college, vocational school or other postsecondary educational institution located in Illinois.
•    Minimum wage. Increases the state minimum wage to $9 on July 1 and by 50 cents each year thereafter until the minimum wage reaches $11 on July 1, 2019. Provides a three-year tax credit for employers with less than 50 employees.
•    Illinois College Promise Program. Covers tuition and mandatory fees for up to two years at any of the state’s 48 community colleges so long as the student continues to meet all applicable eligibility requirements.
•    Healthy Workplace Act. Guarantees up to seven paid days of sick time to full-and part-time employees. Sick time would accrue at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employees would not be able to take sick time for the first 120 days of employment.
•    Corporate loopholes. Ends a variety of corporate tax breaks, including corporations ability to automatically receive tax breaks for production outside of Illinois. Closing these loopholes will bring the state $334 million.

“This is a common-sense agenda that seeks to meet the real needs of real families while we recognize that people are just as important as profits,” Senator Hutchinson said.

The new provisions come as Gov. Rauner has threatened to shut down state government and all state services if lawmakers don’t reduce worker protections, make it harder to sue corporations that make dangerous products and slash billions of dollars in services to at-risk children and seniors.

Senator Hutchinson is sponsoring both the Healthy Workplace Act and the plan to close corporate tax loopholes. She plans to co-sponsor the other proposals along with numerous other Senate Democrats. The proposals could be in final form for possible votes should lawmakers be called back into session this summer.

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