Lack of lobbying clout leaves dry cleaners in the wringer, shop owner says
Tom Ustanik owns seven Lansing Cleaners operations in Illinois and Indiana, but if Senate Bill 9 becomes law, he might throw in the towel in IIlinois.
“Why would you stay in Illinois, especially with the possibility that the taxes are going to continue to rise because they still haven’t done anything about paying their bills,” Ustanik told the Kankakee Times.
SB9 would expand the state sales taxes to laundry and dry-cleaning services, along with other industries, to bring in $55 million in tax revenues, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.
All told, the bill, which passed the Senate on May 23 but has yet to be called for a vote in the House, is expected to raise more than $5.4 billion for a state trying to dig itself out of a gaping financial hole.
“It’s just getting out of control,” Ustanik said. “It wouldn’t be nearly as bad if they enacted things that would slow down the deficit from continuing to spiral out. This doesn’t fix anything.”
Ustanik believes the laundry and dry-cleaning industry was a target of legislators because it has little to no lobbying clout.
“We’re a very fragmented industry, so we don’t have the ability to go out and hire lobbyists and do something,” Ustanik said. “They did a nice job picking and choosing what they wanted to do because they will get very little resistance from the general public."
The laundry industry has been struggling for some time in Illinois, Ustanik said, with the number of dry cleaners dropping in recent years by 20 percent to 25 percent -- and SB 9 will make those numbers worse, he warned.
“This is going to cash out a few more because they aren’t going to be able to survive,” Ustanik said.
Ustanik said he and others wrote letters to lawmakers, yet his senator, Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights), voted for the legislation anyway.
“We’ve already gotten responses back from a number of house members saying, ‘The state’s broke. What do you want me to do?’” he said.
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Channahon, IL 60410, United States
Channahon, IL 60410