* Capitol Fax readers have been learning about Stand for Children’s attempt at big-footing Illinois politics since last October. It took the mainstream media months to catch up, even after Stand for Children accumulated and spent huge money during the election, and even as the group’s major issue, education reform, played out at the Statehouse.
Today, Gov. Pat Quinn will sign the education reform bill that probably wouldn’t have even been introduced without the group’s involvement. So, it’s the Tribune’s turn to catch up…
As Edelman focused on Illinois last fall, he saw an opportunity. A new state law set to take effect Jan. 1 would for the first time limit the size of political donations, but the window was closing fast.
“I didn’t need a rocket scientist,” Edelman said.
He shook the money tree.
The people who quickly poured big bucks into Stand for Children’s campaign kitty include a Chicago-centric crew of philanthropists whose interests in improving education coincide with a willingness to write big checks. […]
The group didn’t spent it all, and it’s now sitting on about $2.9 million, a significant sum now that the biggest check an individual can write a political action committee is $10,000.
Go read the whole thing.
* Speaking of campaign contributions, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange gave big bucks last year to politicians who turned around and raised the company’s taxes - a move that Merc’s parent company says could force it to leave Illinois…
The exchange has donated $1.27 million to Illinois politicians in the last two decades, with almost $500,000 of those campaign contributions coming in the last 1-1/2 years, including: […]
* Two contributions together worth $150,000 to state Democratic Party leader Michael Madigan’s efforts to continue as speaker of the Illinois House.
* A $50,000 donation to Quinn’s general election run last year, after the exchange gave $40,000 to the governor during the Democratic primary campaign.
* CME’s estimates of its state tax liability means it will pay about 5 percent of all new corporate income taxes generated by January’s tax hike. The company certainly has a point about the unfairness of the corporate tax structure here…
But in the April interview, Duffy said the tax hike felt like a slap coming right after the company’s investment in Aurora, which created a lot of jobs in the state.
He also noted the state’s tax structure hits some companies harder than others.
A restructuring of the state’s tax law restricted the tax to profit on in-state sales and eliminated property value and payroll size from the formula. The change benefited multinational manufacturers with sales all over the world.
In fact, two-thirds of corporations filing Illinois returns owed no taxes in 2008.
“I’m not suggesting I have the answers,” Duffy said in April. But, he said, it would be better if everybody paid a little.
* And here’s what the company wants…
CME Group may not only seek an incentive package. According to sources, the company is considering a request for a change to its industry’s corporate income tax formula. […]
Revising “apportionment rules” in this way would require the approval of the General Assembly. Already, some industries have different rules. For instance, airlines operate under a different tax formula than other transportation companies.
If the changes being considered by CME Group are approved, Illinois’ overall corporate income tax rate of 9.5 percent would remain the same for Chicago’s exchanges. What is subject to that rate would change, in order to lower the company’s tax burden. […]
CME Group is expected to argue that because of the way its business is structured and conducted, the company had the highest effective state and local corporate income tax rate among the top 50 Illinois public companies that paid those taxes in 2010. […]
According to an analysis of public filings obtained by the Tribune, CME Group’s state and local income tax rate was 8.9 percent in 2010. It was the only company in the 8-9 percent range; four companies had a rate between 7 and 8 percent.
* And while we’re on the subject of taxes, Mayor Emanuel says he wants to roll back the city’s head tax…
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said today he remains committed to phasing out a corporate employee “head tax” that brings in about $19 million annually to the city.
“I believe it’s a disincentive for companies,” Emanuel said at a news conference to announce United Airlines will be bringing 1,300 more jobs to Chicago. “My goal is — and it will reflect it when I do my budget — that we will roll back a buck a year, so that over my term, it will be the $19 million that is quote unquote raised, will be eliminated.”
*** UPDATE *** Interesting…
CME Group Inc. is looking to sell most of the Chicago Board of Trade building, putting one of Chicago’s most iconic structures on the market.
The disclosure comes less than a week after the exchange operator warned it may leave Illinois to avoid an increase in corporate taxes. Yet a CME spokesman said the sale of the Board of Trade building isn’t connected to discussions over a potential move and declined to say whether it would make an exit easier.
The 80-year-old Art Deco building is comprised of three towers and houses the trading floors for agricultural commodities such as corn and wheat and financial derivatives such as interest-rate futures. It was designated as a historic landmark in 1978 and anchors Chicago’s financial district.
CME said it has hired Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. and Holly Duran Real Estate Partners LLC to market the north and south towers, which include the trading floors for agriculture commodities. CME said it would lease back the space it currently occupies in the buildings, including the trading pits.
* Education reform bill makes it tougher for teachers to strike, easier to be fired
* Jean-Claude Brizard: A push for longer school days
* Tribune editorial: The leadership gap
* Sun-Times Editorial: U. of I. must be open to kids of all incomes
* Sun-Times Editorial: Now not the time to cut preschool funds
* Editorial: State’s college savings programs fail
* Report: Suburbs spending more on lobbying
* Transit agencies spend big on lobbying at state level, study finds
* Report Maps $140M in City and County Savings
* Controversial O’Hare concession contract poses test for Emanuel - Mayor must support Daley’s selection process or start over
* Chicago’s new transportation chief sets a new course - Klein hopes to drive city toward public transit options