Thursday, October 31, 2013

New ADM tax break bill proposed

By Jamey Dunn

Whether same sex marriage or public pension reform will pass during the last week of the Illinois General Assembly's fall veto session seems to be anybody’s guess at this point. But it appears that there may be a way to move forward on a tax break for Archers Daniels Midland. ADM announced plans to move its corporate headquarters from Decatur.

The company said it was considering Chicago as the new location and then came to the General Assembly looking for a tax credit. The initial public reaction from lawmakers was less than positive. However, statehouse observers have been saying for weeks that a deal would likely be worked out in the veto session. Lawmakers are scheduled to be back in session for three days next week. The first week of the fall session wrapped up a day early after little was accomplished.

Sen. Andy Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill, filed legislation today to give ADM the tax credit it sought to keep its headquarters in Illinois. Manar was critical of an earlier bill. “I’ve had countless conversations with constituents, local officials and community groups who are angered by ADM’s recent announcement of their intention to move their headquarters. I would have preferred to have seen ADM first engage state and local officials to find a way to maintain employment levels in Decatur,” he said in a written statement earlier this month. “Now, only eight days later, there is legislation moving in the House of Representatives to give ADM tens of millions to potentially stay in Illinois and move to Chicago. Not so fast. Illinois is facing tough times. Decatur is facing tougher times, with the highest unemployment rate in the state. I will oppose any bill, and I will urge my colleagues to join me in opposing any bill that results in net job loss in Decatur.”

Manar’s new legislation (Senate Amendment 2 to House Bill 2536) would require ADM to replace the 100 corporate jobs that would leave Decatur by moving 100 jobs to Decatur from other states. “Throughout this process, I have said that keeping ADM in Illinois was a priority but not at the expense of taxpayers and jobs,” Manar said today. “The bill I have introduced will allow ADM to continue their long and valued partnership with Illinois, while growing and creating much-needed jobs here.” The proposal would also create a task force with the goal of creating jobs through ADM's intermodal transportation facility in Decatur. Construction of the facility was funded in part through a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The bill was the product of collaboration between ADM executives, Manar and elected officials in Decatur. “We are grateful for Senator Manar’s support. We appreciate the constructive dialogue he’s led with ADM and local leaders around our shared desire to see Decatur grow and prosper,” said Victoria Podesta, ADM’s chief communications officer. “The outcome envisioned in the legislation, if realized, would be a win for Illinois, for Decatur and for ADM.”

Mitch Schaben, a spokesman for Manar, said the amount of the tax credit is still being negotiated. He said the goal is to have everything hashed out by the end of the veto session. But the proposal could still face an uphill climb. Some Democrats are less than thrilled that corporations continue to get tax breaks while education and human services suffer cuts. On the other side of the aisle, some Republicans have voiced opposition to the concept, saying that the state should reduce taxes for all businesses instead of handing out special breaks to larger, well-connected companies. Most recently, lawmakers voted in 2011 to give tax cuts to Sears and the CME Group, which owns the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade. Gov. Pat Quinn signed that legislation but has since said he would not consider any tax breaks that pass before lawmakers approve changes to public employee pensions.

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