Congressman Davis: 'We're in unprecedented times in our country'

Congressman Davis: ‘We’re in unprecedented times in our

By: JACKSON WILSON

Enquirer Democrat Reporter

On Monday, Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis was in pursuit of community support to best voice positivity and motivation to the United States government. The goal was to take the next step in restoring a decomposing financial foundation within the small business working class while the nation continues fighting its battle against a massive coronavirus outbreak.

“We are in unprecedented times in our country right now,” said Davis in a Monday teleconference. “Three weeks ago, we had an economy that most of us had only dreamed of throughout our lives. Unemployment rates were as low as I’ve seen and it’s taken one virus just those three weeks to totally upend our economy and really hit our mainstream businesses. Those folks who work hard in that field were hit the hardest.”

Before he left for his planned district work period this past week, Davis and the rest of the United States representatives were able to pass a $8.3 billion package that begun the process of ensuring that equipment and supplies were going to get out into the state’s local areas for protection against the coronavirus. Then, a second bill was passed that initiated the task of putting small businesses, plus the ones who were affected the most by COVID-19, right at the forefront.

“We put together a pay lease program that allows our small businesses to be able to take a ‘dollar-for-dollar’ tax credit,” said Davis. “This is to give employees – who may have to be in quarantine at the time – the opportunity to keep a certain business in operation and have that job. We also made sure that there’s an additional 10 weeks of Family Medical Leave Act job protection for individuals who might have to care for their students.”

Davis followed by tying his educational concern to a recent personal memory when he was forced to move his two sons home from Illinois State University due to campus closure.

“Communities like Bloomington, Normal, Champaign, Edwardsville, Decatur, Elsa and Carlinville are the ones in my district that truly rely on college students to having a viable local economy,” said Davis. “This is going to be a major hit to all of those areas.”

Davis stated Monday morning that a pending step had to be taken, with community members being the main catalyst to avenge the failure of a vote that would’ve allowed the matter to be discussed accordingly within the Senate.

“I think it’s time for our senators across this nation to hear from you,” Davis said as he addressed small business owners and workers. “We have to make unprecedented decisions that I know will be second-guessed in the future. My staff hears you, we know what you need and many of the same ideas that you have put forward are in the Senate Bill, which we are waiting to pass.”

For the time being, there is a lifeline being made possible through efforts of the Illinois Small Business Association. Small businesses are eligible for SBA economic disaster loans of up to $2 million. These can be used to pay for fixed debts, payroll and other bills.

Robert Steiner, Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Illinois District Office, joined Davis on the line to lead a furtherly-detailed discussion about the organization’s benefits.

“At the SBA adminstration, we are working hard to support everyone throughout the unique times we are going through today,” said Steiner. “The term for our mentioned loans can stretch up to 30 years. Rates for the program are 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for private non-profit. The unique aspect of these loans is that we normally work through commercial lenders on the ground. In this particualar case, this is a direct loan program through the SBA, which is important to know because you need to know where to go to apply and go through the process.

“We encourage all those eligible businesses seeing a negative economic impact to apply and take advantage of this resource,” said Steiner. “We have folks here that are always ready to help and assist you in navigating this process. Payments won’t obviously be coming right away due to everyone’s cash flow being crunched, but our goal is to make sure that everyone will be able to benefit this way under better circumstances in the future.”

“A tax credit would not have benefitted small businesses as much as the flexibility needed to ensure that the business would remain open while being able to provide to its customers the right way,” said Davis. “The third phase currently being discussed in the Senate actually delays payroll tax payments for employers. By 2022, you’d have an approximate $300 billion increase in extra cash flow for small businesses. It will also work with the SBA to do small business loans that can be converted into grants if used to cover payroll expenses.”

If the bill is passed, unemployment benefits will additionally be in store for self-employed independent contractors unable to practice the ‘social distancing’ encouraged by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker when he declared the state’s quarantine last week. Information for not-for-profit businesses are also available courtesy of the
SBA.

“The weekly unemployment claims in Illinois were 4,000 just a week-and-a-half ago,” said Davis. “It’s already increased to 41,000 claims and it’s going to continue to grow. Call your senators and tell them to quit playing politics. Let’s make sure we get this bill passed in the Senate so we can take the next step in assisting those who have been forced out of their workplaces.”

The original end date for the quarantine period is April 7, but the date is subject to change depending on coronavirus case wavelength.

“We need to flatten the curve,” said Davis. “When it comes to infections and rate of infections, we’re going to see more people tested. We’re going to see more people diagnosed. But, we’ve got to get a handle on where we think Illinois is going in the future when it comes to those who are tested. I think that’s going to be a better barometer in terms of whether we continue this process or not.”

More information on the small business support program can be found at www.sba.gov.