House Republican leader Jim Durkin on Tuesday said Illinois should pursue Amazon’s second headquarters, but he doesn’t “think we need to give away the store like Wisconsin just did” for Foxconn.
Durkin was asked about Illinois’ efforts to land the giant company during an appearance before the City Club of Chicago. He said he plans to meet with Gov. Bruce Rauner in the coming days and that “we need to be competitive” in pursuing the company. […]
“We’ll do whatever we can,” Durkin said. “I do know that the competition is very heavy, and any time you start talking about incentives it brings out some of the worst in people down in Springfield.”
He said other states might overpromise incentives on which they can’t deliver. And in the end, he said, it’s lawmakers who have to approve any incentives.
The governor was asked about Durkin’s comments today and he chuckled and said he didn’t know what “giving away the store” means exactly. But he also said that he would work on a package that provides “every possible resource we can” to present the company with a “very attractive, very competitive option.”
*** UPDATE *** Ameya Pawar…
“It’s one thing to attract corporations like Amazon to Illinois because of our transportation infrastructure, our access to fresh water, because we have great colleges and universities, and because of the wealth of art and culture our state has to offer. But it’s another thing entirely to give away billions of dollars in tax incentives while places like Cairo and East St. Louis are fighting to keep their communities from closing.
“When was the last time you saw Governor Rauner lead a delegation to Cairo to assess the potential for economic development there? It’s embarrassing that we are willing to sit by while Cairo is on the verge of closure, when all they’re asking for is investments to save their community.
“If state and local leaders have the political will to offer Amazon special incentives to open a second headquarters here, where is the political will to bring investments to the many communities across our state who are struggling to survive? I propose that we match every incentive dollar we offer to Amazon with a new dollar dedicated to infrastructure and economic development, to public education, or to affordable housing in underserved communities.
If we have the money to give away billions of dollars in tax revenue to Amazon, then why don’t we have the money to invest in communities to save them from closing? And finally, we ask small businesses to pay their fair share in taxes even as they risk closure from the impacts of online retailers like Amazon, who are leading in job automation. Yet when small businesses ask for help, we tell them we live in a capitalist society.
“We cannot allow politicians to continue to put the profits of major corporations over the well-being of working class families and small businesses in our state, who have been forgotten and ignored for too long. It’s time we take our state back from the wealthy and corporate interests who care more about their own self-interest than improving the lives of people struggling to get ahead. It’s time we invest in communities that need it most to keep our communities from closing.”