The Illinois Freedom Caucus, which consists of several downstate lawmakers, is looking for fixes to Illinois’ unemployment rate, which continues to lag the nation’s by nearly a full percentage point.
Illinois currently has a 4.4% unemployment rate, compared to the U.S. average of 3.5%. The state’s economy also continues to trail the rest of the nation as the Land of Lincoln finished 48th for worst unemployment change last month.
State Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich, told The Center Square that a failure in leadership decisions set Illinois’ economy back.
“Due to mitigation standards appointed by [Gov. J.B. Pritzker], the lockdowns, the shutdowns of business and schools, and those mitigation standards crippled businesses in Illinois,” Niemerg said.
A member of the Illinois Freedom Caucus, Niemerg said pandemic-era enhanced weekly unemployment benefits deterred people from finding work.
“For nearly two years, people could make more and stay home,” Niemerg said. “What did they think would happen?”
A large number of Illinois residents are currently without work, leading to businesses being understaffed. However, Niemerg said that high taxes are forcing businesses to lay off workers they do have.
“We need to bring businesses back. We need to look at a property tax reduction. We need to look at pension reform for workers. We need to lower the corporate income tax,” Niemerg said. “It is time we start helping businesses and not stifling them.”
According to Illinois Worker Adjustment and Training Notification Act data, in the past three months ending July 31, around 22 businesses in Illinois have announced they will be laying off 1,460 workers.
The Freedom Caucus sent out a news release urging the state to start saving more.
“We need to reduce spending so that we can lower taxes, particularly the crushing property taxes that are hurting everyone, including small business owners,” the statement reads. “We must substantially reduce business regulations and make it easier for businesses to get the licensing and permits they need. In short, we need to make growing our economy and creating jobs our highest priority.”
The Illinois Freedom Caucus comprises Niemerg, state Reps. Chris Miller, R-Oakland, Brad Halbrook R-Shelbyville, Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City, and Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur.
This article originally appeared on The Center Square.