Springfield, IL – State Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) today introduced House Bill 5864, the Blue Collar Jobs Act, to incentivize construction projects in the state of Illinois and create jobs for the middle class. State Rep. Jerry Long (R-Streator) is a co-sponsor to the bill.

“Our biggest asset here in Illinois is our highly-skilled, labor force,” said Rep. Long.  “If we want to send the message that Illinois is open for business, then we need to put our construction workers to work. That is the goal of this legislation; to create good paying jobs.”

The Blue Collar Jobs Act is 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. It does this through the creation of four new tax credits, including:
  •     High Impact Business construction jobs credit
  •     Enterprise Zone construction jobs credit
  •     New Construction EDGE Credit
  •     River Edge construction jobs credit

“We support prioritizing Illinois construction workers in our state’s economic development toolset through incentives for new construction, expansion, and rehabilitation projects,” said Marc Poulos, Executive Director IN, IL, IA FFC, the labor-management group of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150.

The program will work under the same structure as the current 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 Blue Collar Jobs Act gives growing businesses another reason to make substantial capital investments in Illinois to bring more jobs and opportunities to our state,” said Todd Maisch, President and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

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.

HB 5864 has been introduced is waiting to be assigned to committee.


Springfield… Today, the Illinois House of Representatives passed HJR 105 to rename the Route 23 bridge in South Streator the "Vietnam Veteran Michael W. Ragusa Memorial Bridge." The resolution was introduced by state Rep. Jerry Long (R-Streator) after Michael Ragusa (USMC Ret.) passed away from cancer caused by exposure to Agent Orange, the herbicide and defoliant chemical used by the United States forces during the Vietnam War.

“Michael Ragusa dedicated his life to others,” Rep. Long said on the House floor.  “His legacy is reflected in his family, his wife Roseann, daughters Renee and Kim, and three grandchildren as well as in the lives of the countless veterans he assisted and their families.  It is only fitting that we dedicate the Route 23 bridge in Streator over the Vermillion River in his name. This is the bridge he passed over every day to go out and assist his brothers in arms.”

Michael Ragusa began his service in 1968 at the age of 19 in the 2nd Marine Division in Vietnam, then as a Medivac in Japan, and ended his enlistment here in Illinois at the Great Lakes Naval Base. His service to our country and its veterans did not end with his enlistment, though. Michael worked for the Disabled American Veterans and the AMVets, eventually becoming the Deputy Service Officer for Illinois AMVets. Michael also served his community as a member of the Streator VFW, AMVet Riders, Pekin Marine Corps League, Streator American Legion, and Streator Elks Club.