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No more handouts? Did ADM sour IL on tax breaks?

By   /   December 19, 2013  /   No Comments

By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois lawmakers say big business needs to take note of Archer Daniels Midland.

YOU’LL GET NOTHING: ADM asked for tax breaks, but was turned down in Springfield.

The agribusiness giant announced Wednesday it will move its world headquarters, and 75 jobs, from Decatur to Chicago. The company is making the move without tax help from the state.

Decatur Democratic Sen. Andy Manar says other big companies should pay attention, especially to that last part.

“I think they should look at the tax credit situation,” Manar said. “The things that have been done in the past, long before I arrived in the state Senate, I would say have come to an end.”

Manar tried to shepherd legislation through the statehouse that would have given ADM nearly $30 million in tax breaks. The company, however, would have to hire 500 people in Decatur.

“I think the EDGE tax credit program needs some hefty reforms. I think we need to have that robust conversation, and I think (my legislation) is a good place to start,” Manar told Illinois Watchdog.

Illinois’ EDGE tax credit program, which offers tax breaks to companies looking to add or relocate jobs to the state, got a lot of attention this year, as three companies made late pitches to essentially get paid to move to the Chicago area.

Office Depot asked for tax break but ultimately chose Florida over Illinois. ADM asked for the tax help but moved to Chicago after the Legislature did not approve the tax credits. A third company, Univar, is waiting to learn whether the Illinois House will approve its tax credits.

Powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan sounded a similar tone weeks ago.

“We must resist the temptation to cave to corporate officials’ demands every time they impose a deadline for payment in exchange for remaining in Illinois,” Madigan said in a statement. “And end the case-by-case system of introducing and debating legislation whenever a corporation is looking for free money from Illinois taxpayers.”

OLD WAY IS GONE: Manar says Illinois’ old way of doing business with businesses is likely over.

Republicans and conservative groups have long questioned the wisdom in having state government pick winners and losers.

The next battle over tax incentives may be the battle over Boeing. The aircraft manufacturer moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago in 2001. The company is looking for a home to make the 777, and a number of states are lining up to offer tax breaks and other incentives.

Illinois has not made a formal offer to Boeing. Manar said if the state does, expect the package to make as many demands as promises.

“If these things are going to come before the Legislature again, we should look at what the Senate passed for ADM,” Manar said. “That’s a good framework, in my mind, on how to achieve balance with (tax credits).”

Contact Benjamin Yount at Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org and find him on Twitter @BenYount.

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