* I asked this question of all the Democratic gubernatorial candidates…
What would you support and what would you oppose in the effort to bring Amazon’s HQ2 to Illinois?
The deadline was noon today.
* And here are their answers in the order they were received. Bob Daiber…
“I understand that Amazon is looking to locate at a site 30 miles from a major population center, 45 minutes from an international airport, access to mass transit, and one to two miles from a major highway system. With that said, I support providing Amazon with the needed infrastructure for transportation and telecommunications at the site they select. Previously, Amazon has looked at seven-year Enterprise Zones for their location, so this should be on the table. Also, it may be necessary to provide workforce studies to show the availability for qualified employees. I do not support any incentives to relocate workers from other centers to Illinois. This center has to be employment for Illinois workers.”
* Tio Hardiman…
Gubernatorial Candidate Tio Hardiman will support Amazon in the following areas; providing Amazon with a tax break but a very minimal tax break, offer concessions in the area of transportation (air and rail), tax payer subsides, and access to our most precious resource the brilliant young technical minds which Illinois has an abundance of qualified potential employees ready to work for Amazon.
Tio Hardiman opposes a refundable state payroll tax credit in any form and committing any state infrastructure dollars to Amazon. Additionally, we would like to see Amazon move their 2nd Headquarters to East St. Louis, Chicago’s west or south side, or the south suburbs of Chicago.
* Sen. Daniel Biss…
“Amazon HQ2 suggests the possibility of exciting opportunities for Illinois families: 50,000 jobs, recruitment from and investment in communities that need it most, and a chance to create an agreement that fosters good working conditions, environmental protections, and long-term economic growth. It’s a chance to make a deal that puts working families first.
“Given this potential for success, but also that our regressive tax structure means that the middle class, the working poor, and small businesses typically foot the bill for corporate tax giveaways, we must closely examine any deal that emerges. This means making sure we’re not spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a job that pays much less. It means establishing rules around how and where Amazon invests and hires. It means instituting a clawback mechanism to ensure that, if Amazon doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain, we won’t be expected to keep ours.”
* Chris Kennedy…
The development of an Amazon headquarters in Illinois is a once-in-a-generation opportunity; therefore, Illinois should negotiate with Amazon to bring their headquarters here.
Terms of a deal should be negotiated only within the parameters of the resources Amazon can guarantee to bring to Illinois, because such resources would not exist but for the investment Amazon would bring to our state.
Everyone must be held accountable to this deal. To ensure accountability, the terms of the negotiations should include:
* Public input, and the proposed terms should be published before negotiations are final.
* A clawback provision to ensure Amazon pays back state and local investment dollars if it fails to meet its proposed commitments, such as projected job growth or contributions to site development.
* Additional guarantees, including full payment of all sales taxes imposed upon related or comparable businesses, so as not to give Amazon such a competitive advantage that would put other companies out of business.
Corporate tax breaks are not the way to build an economy, and I’m skeptical of including any incentive in the form of a TIF, given the lack of transparency within the TIF program and within our property tax system.
Illinois is best positioned for this opportunity because of the public sector advantages we offer: a skilled workforce, great schools and universities, a competitive geographic location, a strong transit system, and access to consumers.
But, the factors that will be held against us include our budget instability imposed on us by Bruce Rauner’s failed leadership; our long-held inequitable school funding which has led to a disinvestment in public education, so much so that 75 percent of students are unable to graduate and go on to higher education without remedial education; and our broken tax system that allows the well-connected to get property tax breaks at the expense of low-income and middle class communities.
Illinois needs a governor who will make greater investments across our public sector if we want to be best positioned to grow our economy and our workforce.
* JB Pritzker…
For nearly two decades, I have worked to create an environment for companies like Amazon to see Illinois as one of the nation’s leading technology hubs, and I’m proud of my work with 1871 to create over 7,000 new jobs here. I support efforts to bring Amazon’s HQ2 to Illinois, but any incentives to attract new jobs to our state must be a good investment that yields a positive return for Illinois taxpayers. For example, in any incentive package we need to address concerns about companies not following through on their job creation commitments. The EDGE tax credit program, which was renewed by the legislature with near unanimous support, is updated to address those concerns. As governor, job creation and raising wages for working families will be one of my top priorities.
* Ameya Pawar…
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.
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 and hundreds of communities around Illinois are fighting to keep their communities from closing.
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.
* Emanuel, Rauner Meet Privately to Discuss Amazon Bidding
* Tribune Editorial: Will Madigan and Cullerton help Emanuel land Amazon?
* Chicagoans better take a hard and wary look at any deal to woo Amazon
* Illinois needs to win silver, too
* Previous candidate questions…
* Question 1: Marijuana legalization
* Question 2: Where would they cut?
* Question 3: Municipal bankruptcy
* Question 4: Campaign theme
* Question 5: Cook County pop tax and state repeal
* Question 6: Geolocation Privacy Protection Act