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Concerns about health-care law escalate

Published: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 1:38 p.m. CDT

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Here are some interesting statistics from the United States Chamber of Commerce/Harris Interactive Poll Second Quarter Small Business Outlook Study from July 8. The sampling included 1,304 participants with 499 being U.S. chamber members and 805 nonmembers.

Concerns about the health-care law have now reached as the top challenge viewed by small business, increasing by 10 points since June 2011. While overall concerns about the economy remained steady:

• 71 percent of small businesses say the health-care law makes it harder to hire.

• Only 30 percent say they are prepared for the requirements of the law including participation in the marketplaces.

• Among small businesses that will be impacted by the employer mandate, one-half of small businesses say that they will either cut hours to reduce full-time employees or replace full-time employees with part-time workers to avoid the mandate. Twenty-four percent say they will reduce hiring to stay under 50 employees.

• Seventy-nine percent believe the health-care law will make coverage more expensive, 17 percent believe it will have little impact on cost while 4 percent believe the law will make health-care coverage more affordable.

Here’s what the respondents said as to the challenges facing small business owners today:

• The 2010 Health-care bill – 49 percent

• Overregulation – 44 percent

• Economic uncertainty – 44 percent

• America’s growing debt & deficit - 40 percent

• High taxes – 33 percent

• A complicated tax code – 19 percent

• Loss of revenue – 17 percent

• High energy/gas prices – 13 percent

• Lack of qualified or educated employees – 11 percent

Seventy-seven percent continue to think that the U.S. economy is on the wrong track, but funny enough, 49 percent of small businesses are more optimistic about their local economy and almost 75 percent believe their own individual businesses are heading in the right direction.

Even with the belief they’re heading in the right direction, only 17 percent of small business owners reported hiring employees in the last two years and only 20 percent believe that they will add any employees in the next two years. Sixty-one percent stated that they have no plans to hire next year. Almost 25 percent say that the heat-care bill is their biggest obstacle to hiring more employees.

The study also reported that small businesses are looking for legislative solutions, not more regulation. Concerns about regulation have increased significantly from 35 percent last quarter to 42 percent now.

Small businesses are looking for leadership on issues that will remove barriers and encourage growth:

• 88 percent of all small businesses support addressing entitlement spending to resolve America’s growing financial challenges and escalating debt.

• 83 percent support congressional efforts to reform the tax code with the majority focusing on making it less complex.

• 81 percent of small businesses surveyed believe the immigration system is broken and needs to be reformed and 57 percent said that immigration reform will strengthen the economy and increase global competitiveness.

In contrast to the president’s recent speech pushing new energy regulations, 90 percent of small businesses support easing EPA regulations and opening up more federal lands for drilling. Almost 70 percent of small business owners agree that high energy prices are an immediate threat to their success and 80 percent do not think the administration has done enough to keep gas prices low, increase domestic sources of energy and develop an energy policy that supports the economy and jobs.

Finally, the only thing that scares small businesses more than what Washington has already done (23 percent) is what the federal government will do next (63 percent) and 78 percent of small businesses are concerned about the prospect of U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi regaining her speakership following the 2014 elections.

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If you have any inkling of what’s been going in the state of Illinois, one cannot get educated fast enough about those who want to lead the state out of the morass we find ourselves in. Several areas chambers have been instrumental in bringing those people in to meet and find out more about them. Bruce Rauner will be speaking about why he wants to be governor of Illinois from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 30 at Turnberry Country Club in Lakewood. Friday is the last day to register for this leadership luncheon. Visit clchamber.com.

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Tonight, please join Advocate Good Shepherd Outpatient Center, 525 Congress Pkwy., Crystal Lake, as it hosts an “Escape to The Tropics” mixer. Then on July 30, The Other Side, 93 E. Berkshire, Unit G, Crystal Lake, will be hosting an after-hours mixer. These mixers are from 5 to 7 p.m. and all chamber members are encouraged to attend.

• Gary Reece is president of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce. Email garyreece@clchamber.com.

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