Illinois lawmakers are home for the holidays after approving tax breaks to keep Chicago's financial exchanges and Sears in the state while providing tax relief for the working poor. There was also agreement to save nearly 2,000 jobs at seven state facilities around Illinois, but no movement on a massive gambling expansion plan for the state's casino and horse racing industries. Both decisions were reached during the [ ilga.go ]Illinois General Assembly's Fall 2011 Veto Session.
In an interview conducted by WSIU producer Jak Tichenor, Statehouse Correspondent for public television's Illinois Lawmakers series, Democratic State Representative John Bradley of Marion and Assistant Senate Republican Leader David Luechtefeld of Okawville discuss the pros and cons of the agreement that provided CME, the Chicago Board Options Exchange, and Sears some $300-million in tax breaks to keep the companies from leaving the state of Illinois. Small business owners also realized tax relief in the package, as well as farmers who received a break on estate taxes. Low-income taxpayers were helped by a provision that increased the state's earned income tax credit from five to ten percent.
Both lawmakers expect the General Assembly to explore new ways of improving the state's business climate and overhauling the state's corporate tax system in the spring. Pension reform for current state employees, though highly controversial, will also be up for discussion when lawmakers return to the Statehouse in the new year because of the state's massive $85-billion unfunded public pension liability.