Another business group calls for governor to keep incentives

(The Center Square) – Another business group is calling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to preserve tax incentives for Illinois businesses.

Earlier this year, Pritzker announced he would delay the implementation of economic incentives outlined in the so-called Blue Collar Jobs Act of 2019. He then said he would go seek to close “corporate tax loopholes” in order to shore up the state’s budget.

Brad Tietz, vice president of government relations with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said now that the state has lifted business restrictions, this is a bad time to eliminate tax incentives.

“Recover is looking good, but still, we are not out of the woods yet,” Tietz said. “We have to make it easier and not harder for businesses to reopen.”

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce also condemned the move, saying it equates to a slew of tax increases on job creators.

“The so-called ‘loopholes’ closures are nothing more than tax increases on employers that target, in particular, the manufacturing sector which has lost 50,000 jobs in the last two years,” the Chamber said in a statement. “These changes make the Illinois tax code go further outside the mainstream of state tax policy. Job creators will undoubtedly react negatively.”

Tietz said Pritzker has money at his disposal – to the tune of billions of dollars in federal funds.

“There is $8.1 billion in federal funds coming to the state, and the state is only appropriating $2.5 billion of those federal funds thus far,” Tietz said. “We just did not see a need to repeal those incentives at this time.”

Even before the announcement of the federal funds, Pritzker said the tax incentives needed to go.

“It really is the Democrats that are demonstrating that we’re operating in a responsible fashion in regard to our budget. Republicans are acting irresponsibly,” Pritzker said. “They wanted to spend the one-time federal money to cover for their corporate benefactors. I’m surprised by that, but that’s what they wanted to do. They were wrong, and they lost on that issue.”

Tietz said this move may push businesses out of the state and prevent others from moving in.

“Illinois has a lot going for it in terms of workforce and infrastructure, but you have to at least make it palatable for costs, and these incentives are one way to do it,” Tietz said.

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