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POINT: How will you address the challenges facing business?

Tackle over-regulation, adopt a new road bill, encourage training

    The state of Illinois is the poster child for what not to do to attract, retain and grow businesses in this country. The high cost of living, government rules and regulations, high taxes, and out-of-control government spending and debt are destroying this state.
Pg04 davis    But don’t take my word for it; just ask other Illinoisans what they think.
    A Gallup poll from earlier this year found that one in four Illinoisans feel that Illinois is the worst place to live in the entire U.S. As if that wasn’t bad enough, people are actually acting on this discontent.  According to the IRS, between 1995 and 2010, 850,000 Illinoisans moved to a different state.
    These and other statistics are incredible and must change.
    We must pull together because if the federal government doesn’t heed the warnings from the state of Illinois, nationally we’ll find ourselves in the same position, or worse.
    During my short time in Congress, I have listened to business owners about the challenges they face and in turn have advocated for policy changes to help our businesses and our economy grow. First, businesses are pleading for relief from over-regulation.
    According to an analysis by the Progressive Policy Institute, the Federal Code of Regulations grew to 169,301 pages in 2011 – an increase of 138 percent since 1975.
    In June, the Competitive Enterprise Institute found that complying with federal regulations cost businesses $1.863 trillion in 2013, which is more than the GDP of Canada.  
    The 2014 Chase Business Leaders Outlook survey of small businesses found that 50 percent of respondents felt that reducing regulations is what government should focus on to support the growth of small- and medium-sized businesses and another 60 percent felt that the current regulatory environment is making it more difficult to expand and hire new workers.
    That’s why I’m a proud co-sponsor of H.R.4646, the Regulatory Improvement Act of 2014. This strong bipartisan piece of legislation would create a commission within the legislative branch tasked with eliminating or revising outdated or redundant federal regulations.
    But we can do more than that – the Senate needs to be an active partner by joining the House to approve H.R.367, the REINS Act, which would also help businesses by asking Congress and regulators to slow down and consider all the consequences of a new rule prior to letting it take effect.
    Businesses are also concerned over the uncertain future of our country’s economy, and their concerns are shared by a number of economists. In mid-June, the International Monetary Fund changed its forecast for the U.S. economy for 2014, predicting that it would grow by only 2 percent this year, down from 2.8 percent.
    So what can Congress do? Instead of relying on extensions and short-term, piecemeal approaches to spending and other important policy issues, we need to provide some long-term certainty for our economy and for the business community.
    The budget approved by the House and Senate last December is a good start – it puts an end to continuing resolutions and governing from crisis to crisis and allows Congress to work through the constitutional appropriations process. This is what it will take to make real spending cuts and reforms to begin to address our national debt.
    The bipartisan support for the Farm Bill and WRRDA proves that despite what the national media reports, Congress is able to work together. The five-year Farm Bill and multi-year WRRDA bill Congress approved this year gives the agriculture, transportation and other industries the certainty they’ve been calling for, for years.
    But we can’t stop there. In the next year, Congress must approve a long-term road bill. In this political environment it won’t be easy, but we should be able and willing to find unique, bipartisan solutions to maintain and expand our country’s transportation system, and as a member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee I look forward to seeing this to the finish line.
    Finally, our employers need and deserve a well-trained, well-educated workforce. In the same Chase Business Leaders Outlook survey, 29 percent of small business leaders stated that they were “very” or “extremely” concerned about the limited supply of skilled candidates.
    I strongly believe that this is where the federal government could play a critical role.
    In today’s economy, an increasing number of jobs require some form of higher education, from technical certificates to college degrees.  But due to an overly complicated Workforce Investment Act system and an outdated unemployment insurance system, many Americans are faced with choosing between keeping their unemployment benefits and seeking additional training needed to find a job.
    To address this I introduced the bipartisan Opportunity KNOCKS Act last May to allow unemployed Americans to seek training or a degree without risk of losing their unemployment benefits.
    But we also have to ensure that when individuals get that training or education, they have a job waiting for them when they are done.
    So I’ve joined a bipartisan group of House members to introduce the Perkins Modernization Act of 2014, a commonsense bill that would strengthen and support career/technical education by using workforce data to identify “in-demand” occupations and ensure that curriculum at area colleges and universities is aligned to meet those needs.
    Despite any progress we may have made in the last 18 months, the fact that the concerns of the business community remain the same means we have so much more to do.
    As our economy continues to change, government and elected officials should be ready to embrace those changes and enact policies accordingly. Officials at all levels of government must be receptive to both employers and employees and be willing to work across the aisle to give employers the tools they need to invest in inventory, infrastructure and most importantly people, and employees what they need to advance or find a good-paying job.
    Throughout the next few months I look forward to traveling throughout central and southwest Illinois to listen and talk to employers, to find out what’s working and what isn’t and where government needs to help or in some instances simply get out of the way. I will continue to do all I can to make Washington work for Illinois and the families of the 13th District.
    Rodney Davis is the Republican nominee seeking re-election in the 13th Congressional District.

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