Management & Labor

Illinois Governor: No More Corporate Tax Breaks without Pension Reform

Despite previously supporting millions of dollars in tax breaks to keep corporations in Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday declared there will be no more special incentives for businesses until lawmakers send him a measure to overhaul the state's public employee retirement system.
October 7, 2013

Despite previously supporting millions of dollars in tax breaks to keep corporations in Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday declared there will be no more special incentives for businesses until lawmakers send him a measure to overhaul the state's public employee retirement system.

It's the latest attempt by the Democratic governor to link a pension overhaul with a hot-button issue. The governor has said he wouldn't sign a gambling expansion without pension changes. This summer he vetoed lawmaker salaries from the budget, saying they didn't deserve to be paid while the pension issue languished. That move was rejected by a Cook County judge, though Quinn has since appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Quinn's latest position, spurred by Archer Daniels Midland's request for as much as $24 million over two decades to stay in Illinois, illustrates a desire to score a victory on the pension issue as he prepares to fight for his political life heading into next year's re-election effort.

"The governor is all in on pension reform, and that's been the case for almost two years now, so it's not surprising that he's ramping up the rhetoric and tying more stuff to it," said Chris Mooney, director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois. "He's ginned it up as a crisis, and his opponents will suggest it's a crisis and blame him if it doesn't get solved one way or another, so it really matters to his political career that something be done and be done within the next 13 months."

On Friday, Quinn suggested there should be a "moratorium" on tax breaks for companies, saying businesses instead should focus on lobbying lawmakers for a pension overhaul.

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