Illinois government should never pick sides in business matters.
But, today, some are asking Gov. Bruce Rauner to take a wrong turn by favoring out-of-state special interests over businesses that employ thousands of Illinois residents and pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. They are encouraging the Governor to veto bipartisan legislation (SB2641) passed by the Illinois General Assembly that would provide fair and equal treatment under the law for all car rental transactions.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) car rental providers currently are not following tax laws. Just as bad, they aren’t adhering to statutes that protect the safety of car renters.
This new bill not only would require P2P providers to stop avoiding taxes and start meeting safety standards, it also would subject them to common-sense pro-consumer rules for transparent pricing, billing and fees. Keep in mind that these rules have been in place since 1996, covering all car rental transactions at airports and at branch offices in all kinds of neighborhoods, without any questions or fanfare. Now, suddenly, certain for-profit car rental outfits are demanding to be protected from free-market competition.
Gov. Rauner has both the obligation and power to address this inequity. And that’s precisely why he should sign SB2641 … to make things right. However, if the law doesn’t become more fair and consistent, other car rental operators may be compelled to likewise market themselves as “P2P providers” just to compete in Illinois.
That would mean:
- less tax revenue for local governments that are already strapped for resources;
- fewer safety protections for drivers in Illinois; and
- a hostile business climate that will make it even harder to attract other employers to Illinois.
Every other so-called P2P “disruptor” in Illinois – from Airbnb to Uber and Lyft – has already agreed to play by a basic set of rules designed to protect taxpayers and consumers. As a result, we at the American Car Rental Association hope Gov. Rauner will take this opportunity to strengthen our state’s fiscal health and safety record when it comes to car rental, too.
If he doesn’t, Illinois taxpayers will be the losers – on the hook once again to make up another inevitable revenue shortfall.