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.
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."
In what looks like a direct hit at ADM -- whose executives say the company hasn't always had to pay an income tax -- Madigan says companies requesting breaks do little to help fund the state government services from which they benefit.
Madigan, a Democrat, says when middle-class families are struggling, corporations that don't pay state taxes shouldn't get tax breaks. That's the same stance taken by public employees unions. Though traditionally allied with Democrats, unions are upset that legislators -- including Democrats like Madigan -- voted to reduce workers' pensions. The labor movement argues Illinois should close corporate tax loopholes, instead of reducing workers' retirement benefits.
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.
The Senate sponsor of the ADM plan (), Sen. Andy Manar, D- Bunker Hill, did not immediately return a call for comment.