State of the Union

President Obama’s speech lasted just shy of one hour, covering everything from equal pay to equal rights.

The State of the Union was filled with many game changing ideas for small businesses like changing taxes, paid sick leave, and paid paternity leave. But Naperville Chamber of Commerce Consultant, Elizabeth Van Holt, warned that none of these were in the best interest of our local business-owners, and took the most offense with the prospect of raising minimum wage.

“That is the worst thing we can do to businesses next to the affordable health care act. Businesses are already now having to spend more money on their employees who work 30 hours or more to be able to pay for health insurance for them,” said Van Holt. “And on top of that the health insurance went up. So now you have to pay more for the same employees doing the same work. We just don’t have an economic system for that right now.”

One thing Van Holt thinks Obama got right was the expansion of free trade.

“If we are able to quickly and efficiently have a Free Trade Agreement such as the President called for, that gives our small, middle and large manufacturers right here in the Midwest an opportunity to have a larger customer base and that’s what we’re looking for,” said Van Holt.

Another proposal brought up by Obama that is creating a lot of buzz – two free years of community college.

“I think it has a positive effect on community colleges across the country and if you’re in the community college business what’s not to like about the proposition from President Obama. It’s going to make education available to an increasing population of people,” said College of DuPage President, Robert L. Breuder. “You have to sustain what I believe is a 2.5 GPA then there are other performance measures that are embedded in it as well. So that weather you’re a 17 year old or a 37 year old this program’s going to be available to you but you do have to be willing to pursue a transfer oriented degree meaning that when you’re finished at COD or any community college you’re planning to transfer on to an upper division university or you’re engaged in the career field.”

In Illinois, College of DuPage is the only community college to have grown in the last five years in full time student enrollment and Breuder believes this change would only add to that.

With Republicans holding the majority in the House and Senate, pushing all of the President’s proposals through will be an uphill battle. Experts say expanding free trade and working toward some form of tax reform might be the likeliest subjects where the two parties could find some common ground.

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