Today, an Illinois Appellate Court declared the laws providing approximately half of the funding for the $31 billion capital bill unconstitutional. This threatens the future of thousands of projects and tens of thousands of jobs.
The law was deemed unconstitutional not because taxes on liquor and other products are not legal, but that the law included too wide an array of taxes. The Illinois Constitution states that laws must only deal with one issue at a time.
Rocky Wirtz, owner of the Blackhawks and Wirtz Beverage Inc., stated that the tax unfairly targeted liquor distributors. To put things in perspective, the tax amounted to about 5 cents per gallon of beer or $1 per bottle of liquor.
“Wirtz claims that his liquor company pulls in $1.5 billion in profits every year,” said Local 150 President-Business Manager James M. Sweeney. “Now he is trying to take food off struggling workers’ tables? I don’t think so.”
“Republicans and Democrats were behind this capital bill because everyone can agree that our citizens need to work. Now, we have already seen legislators from both sides of the aisle exploring ways to remedy this situation and keep the jobs on track.”
In comments to Fox Chicago News, Sweeney stated that a boycott of the Blackhawks could be a very suitable way for workers to voice their displeasure with Wirtz.
This afternoon, the Illinois Supreme Court approved a stay requested by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. This stay effectively puts last week’s ruling by an Appellate Court to rest until the Supreme Court rules on the appeal. The Appellate Court decision will not be enforced, allowing bonds to be sold and projects to continue.
The Illinois Attorney General’s Office plans to file a brief with the Supreme Court on February 14th. No timeline has been given by the Supreme Court for when their decision could come.
Keep an eye on Local150.org for updated information regarding the challenge to the capital plan. The projects funded by this plan are among the main sources of employment for Local 150 members in Illinois, so Local 150 will continue to monitor the situation and work with legislators from both sides of the aisle to protect this legislation.