Illinois lawmakers have approved tax relief to encourage corporations to stay put, and the parade of companies seeking such relief likely won’t end anytime soon. The deals given Sears, the CME Group and Champion Labs were part of a larger tax relief package for small businesses, working families and corporations – but it’s not the first time this year the state has helped big companies. Gov. Pat Quinn says it likely won’t be the last.
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“Sometimes when you have an emergency, where another state is trying to take a big employer… we’re not going to stand on the side of the road and watch them do it,” he says. “We’re going to roll up our sleeves and protect our jobs.” Quinn was referring to Ohio’s attempt to lure Sears to Columbus at a price of $400 million in incentives. Illinois’ proposal extends Sears' Economic Development area in Hoffman Estates and gives $150 million in EDGE tax credits over 10 years. Many lawmakers say the state can’t afford to keep giving companies tax relief one by one, and many seemed willing to revamp the state’s corporate income tax structure when they return to the Capitol in 2012. Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) says she’s willing to say “no more” to individual business tax breaks until the state’s corporate income tax structure is reviewed. “I don’t call the shots entirely, but I think that’s one approach,” she says. “We need to say ‘we recognize we have a problem,’ I think you heard a lot of recognition of that today. We need comprehensive reform, and that may be one way to hold our feet to the fire to get it done.”