With the Illinois state legislature still deliberating a tax incentive package to lure both Sears Holdings Corp. and the CME Group to keep their operations in the state, an offer from another state referenced by Gov. Pat Quinn serves as a stark reminder of how high the stakes are.
Quinn told WJBC that Ohio, one of the states rumored to be wooing Sears away from Illinois, offered the retailer $400 million if they make the move. Sears is among the state's largest employers.
"We aren’t offering anywhere close to that," Quinn admitted to WJBC, "but I think Sears understands that being in Illinois is the best place to be in the Midwest."
Ohio Gov. John Kasich doesn't appear too confident Sears will accept his state's offer, the Capitol Fax blog pointed out Monday morning. He told WTAM he expects Illinois will do "whatever they needed" to keep the retailer at their Hoffman Estates, Ill. base.
State Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, state House Revenue Committee chairman, told Crain's Chicago Business that the state has "got to figure out a way to work this out" and keep CME Group, Sears as well as CBOE Holdings, which has also threatened to leave, in Illinois. The details of the offer for the companies are expected to be unveiled Wednesday.
The previously proposed tax cut package for the companies ballooned to an estimated $850 million a year in reduced revenue for the financially-hobbled state due to the addition of tax breaks for smaller businesses and an extension of the earned income tax credit.
The tax breaks for the companies have been criticized as "corporate welfare" and "an exercise in pure, unadulterated corporate greed" by progressive group Stand Up! Chicago and members of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Meanwhile, Illinois' unemployment rate increased for the sixth-straight month in October and has now inched up to 10.1 percent, a full percentage point above the national average.
Lawmakers are due to return to Springfield to discuss the matter and continue their already busy fall veto session Nov. 29.