Remember last year? While New York and California, where noted conservative tools Andrew Cuomo and Jerry Brown instituted sweeping tax cuts and austere budgets, opted to cut budgets and rein in spending, Illinois swam against the tide, jacked up business taxes in a downright Daytonian orgy of confiscation.
So how’s that going for ‘em?
Doug Whitley, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, says his members aren’t happy with the state’s approach toward businesses.
“Big-name, household-name companies that are long-standing Illinois businesses have begun to rattle the cage and say, you know, this isn’t the best environment,” he says.
The tax hikes were serious and, for companies rattled by the simultaneous collapses of the housing and credit markets, a kick in the corporate teeth:
Construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar was among the first corporate giants to complain in January, when Illinois raised the corporate income tax rate from 4.8 percent to 7 percent.
The latest complaint comes from an iconic company along the Chicago River: CME Group, the parent of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade.
CME Group Chairman Terry Duffy spoke to NBC about moving the company’s headquarters out of Illinois.
“All our transactions are taxed in Illinois. Whether they’re coming from Mumbai or some other part of the world, they’re being taxed here in Illinois. That’s absolutely unjust,” he said.
Retail giant Sears is also making noise about leaving, as the tax incentives that kept the company in Illinois almost 25 years ago are set to expire.
And that’s the big companies, like Sears; in Minnesota terms, companies like USBank, that squeedged tax concessions out of the city to stay in Saint Paul while smaller companies decamped en masse for Eagan, Woodbury and Minnetonka.
Some suggest the big-name companies are just posturing to get larger tax breaks, a strategy some smaller employers complain they can’t use.
“There are 372,000 companies operating in Illinois. We cannot afford to give hundred-million-dollar deals to all those companies; it’s inefficient and impractical. What we really need to do is talk about creating a level playing field environment that makes Illinois a magnet,” Whitley says.
The “we can’t give everyone a hundred-million-dollar break” bit is just a dumb strawman – but it leads you to the “level playing field”; cut taxes, and make them low, but fair, across the board.
Y’know – the way Minnesota’s also aren’t.