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Companies threatening to leave Illinois get $30 million

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[April 10, 2014]  By Benjamin Yount

SPRINGFIELD  If a business wants a tax break in Illinois, it should probably threaten to move.

Lawmakers looking into the state's tax breaks and incentives are asking why Illinois is spending almost eight times more on companies threatening to leave than those looking to stay.

Wednesday, Illinois' Department of Economic Opportunity director Adam Pollet said DCEO spent $30 million on EDGE tax credits last year for companies that threatened to leave Illinois without some sort of sweetener.

DCEO spent just $4 million on companies that weren't thinking about leaving.

THREATS PAY: Pollet says Illinois pays $30 million to keep companies, $4 million to encourage them.

That doesn't sit well with Democrat Jack Franks.

"What are we doing for the small business people who want to stay here in Illinois?" Franks asked.

EDGE is a special tax break given to companies looking to move to or in many cases within Illinois.

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"(The EDGE credit) is our primary tool for competing with other states," Pollet told a legislative hearing, "if we are in a position to attract a company to the state, if we're in a position to keep a company here that might expand. The absence of a tool like EDGE would be incredibly negative."

Illinois lawmakers are considering overhauling EDGE, as well as some of the state's other tax incentives and programs.

Franks has said he wants to make sure the state has a tax system that makes sense and works for everyone, not just few big companies.

Lawmakers are working on a budget and a May 31 deadline.

[This article courtesy of Illinois Watchdog.]

Contact Benjamin Yount at Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org and find him on Twitter:  @BenYount.

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