Pritzker freezes Blue Collar Jobs Act; Rep. Wheeler cites harmful impact on construction industry jobs and families

State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) responded today to Governor Pritzker’s decision to place an indefinite freeze on the Blue Collar Jobs Act, a bipartisan law enacted in 2019 to incentivize construction projects in the state of Illinois and create jobs for the middle class. Wheeler introduced and championed the Blue Collar Jobs Act in the House of Representatives, helping to secure its passage in the Democratic-controlled legislature in 2019.

“By taking this action, the Governor is reneging on the bipartisan agreement from 2019 he committed to on economic reforms.  He’s also hurting construction families who would clearly benefit from the high-paying jobs that are not going to occur because of this indefinite delay,” Representative Wheeler said. “I call on the Governor to reconsider his decision and immediately lift the freeze so that we can continue to create more high-wage Illinois jobs for Illinois families.”

The Blue Collar Jobs Act was supported by both labor and business groups and offers tax incentives to companies making significant capital improvements in Illinois based on the withholding tax paid to construction workers. The program works under the same structure as the state’s EDGE program:

  • Tax credit value is 50% of Illinois income tax withheld of workers covered under the agreement;
  • Tax credit value rises to 75% of Illinois income tax withheld of workers covered under the agreement in areas designated to be in an underserved area that meets certain poverty, unemployment, and federal assistance rates;
  • Tax credit is issued to the organization that builds, renovates or expands the building just as the EDGE tax credit goes to the company hiring the workers. The tax credit is meant to incentivize the company to construct new buildings or improve existing buildings which can’t be built without the use of Illinois labor.

The tax credits only become available after the work has been fully completed. There is no risk to the state for a company not meeting its requirement; as the state has already captured the withholding tax prior to the tax credit being issued.