Catching Up with Coffey: Jobs, Taxes, and More

Uptick in Illinois unemployment during May; House Republicans fight back. The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) stated that joblessness rose in May 2024 from the previous month, up 0.1% from 4.8% to 4.9%. The rise in unemployment included net Illinois job losses in Manufacturing (down 2,300 jobs) and in Leisure/Hospitality (down 1,200 jobs). Illinois’ May 2024 jobless rate was 90 basis points higher than the nationwide unemployment rate of 4.0% for the same month.

Other sectors of Illinois employment showed net job creation in May 2024, with a net new paycheck increase of 7,100 in Professional and Business Services, and 3,300 net new jobs created in Government. On an overall basis across all sectors, Illinois employers reported creating 12,700 net new jobs in May 2024. This net new job creation was far smaller, however, than the 317,400 Illinoisans counted as unemployed and looking for employment during the same month. Unemployment was especially significant in many regions of Downstate Illinois, including rural counties and in traditional industrial centers such as Danville, Kankakee, and Rockford.

To fight back against these dismal trends, House Republicans have formed the Reigniting Illinois’ Strong Economy (RISE) working group. RISE, headed by Representative Dan Ugaste, introduced a package of job-friendly legislation in the General Assembly this spring. This package will also serve as the job-creation platform for many of the members of our Caucus as they look forward to continued legislative action and public outreach. In our RISE podcast, Representative Ugaste describes the issues facing job creation in Illinois.


Illinois to implement another motor fuel tax increase on July 1. The State’s tax on motor fuel has increased every year since 2019. Another increase will be imposed on July 1, when the levy on gasohol and equivalent fuels will rise from 45.4 cents/gallon to 47.0 cents/gallon. As recently as the first half of 2019, the State levy was only 19 cents per gallon, but during the past five years this tax has increased by almost 150%. The 2024 Illinois tax on diesel fuel will also increase. In addition to the State of Illinois tax on motor fuel, Illinois buyers must also pay a federal gasoline tax (18.4 cents per gallon), and in many cases must pay supplemental taxes levied by local governments.

Illinois’ motor fuel tax, which is imposed separately from and supplemental to the State’s sales tax on motor fuel, is deposited in a “lockbox” fund that is required by law to only be used for transportation purposes. However, these allowed purposes include non-highway expenditures such as passenger trains and city buses. Many neighboring states charge much lower motor fuel taxes than does Illinois. For example, the current tax rate in Indiana is 18.9 cents per gallon.


Seconds tick down on shot-clock-free Illinois high school basketball. After many years of debate, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) – keeper of the rulebook for prep sports – has green-lighted the device for standard use on the Illinois varsity basketball floor. Teams will have 35 seconds to complete an offensive play or hear the dreaded buzzer. The shot clock will appear courtside in the 2026-27 season.

The Illinois shot clock debate was influenced by many high school basketball coaches, assistant coaches, volunteers, and parents who have strong feelings about the device. In deference to this debate, the statewide shot clock mandate will not initially apply to junior varsity games and games played between sophomores and between freshmen. Athletic conferences and teams are granted subsidiarity rights to opt into, or stay out of, the shot clocks with regards to non-varsity games. However, because serious non-varsity players will be looking forward to playing on the varsity level if they are selected for teams, the junior players and their coaches may evolve towards greater shot clock use in junior Illinois basketball games as the players learn how to play under pre-varsity conditions.


New law creates new Springfield-based Illinois Department of Early Childhood (IDEC). The law creating the new Department, which will transition into existence over the next two State fiscal years, was signed on Tuesday, June 25. The new Department will administer programs that are currently housed at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

Under the new law, the often-troubled DCFS will be required to give up its supervision of day care centers, day care homes, and group day care homes to the new Department. This could alleviate some of the burden DCFS currently faces. Additionally, the newly-created Department is slated to supervise early childhood education programs and care programs for at-risk children and families, including home visitations and intervention services. The transition of responsibilities over to the new Department will be phased in over a 24-month period concluding on July 1, 2026. A proclaimed policy goal of the new Department will be to prevent very young children from experiencing deprivations, often experienced within at-risk families, that appear to generate an increased risk of long-term effects upon human achievement levels and personalities. In a parallel budget bill, the General Assembly appropriated $14 million in the upcoming fiscal year for initial IDEC startup costs, including hiring executive staff and opening new office spaces.

House Republicans want good care for Illinois’ young children, but many members of our Caucus pointed to the almost complete lack of information provided to lawmakers by champions of the new Department as to how much the act of setting it up would cost and what the new Department’s overall impact on Illinois’ future budgets and tax bills would be. The House vote to enact the creation of the Illinois Department of Early Childhood was 93-18-0.

Rep. Coffey is Fighting for Working Families in Illinois