Il House Speaker says it's time to reconsider tax incentives for businesses

Dec 12, 2013

A day after Office Depot announced it would stay in Florida rather than move to Illinois, the speaker of the House says Illinois needs to end its practice of offering tax incentives on a case-by-case basis.  IPR'S Amanda Vinicky reports.

The Illinois House is getting flak for adjourning earlier this month without voting on tax breaks approved by the Senate, deals meant to lure the newly-merged Office Depot to Illinois, and to convince Archer Daniels Midland to keep its global headquarters in-state.

House Speaker Michael Madigan is defending that choice. In a statement, he writes that introducing legislation "whenever a corporation is looking for free money from taxpayers" is unsettling, and looks like "corporate pay to play." Madigan says when middle-class families are struggling, corporations that don't pay state taxes shouldn't get tax breaks.

Advocates of the incentives say Illinois needs to offer them in order to compete with other states. They say the packages help the state's economy, because usually a firm needs to show it has created or retained Illinois jobs before it can claim the tax break.