How much more corporate welfare?
A little over two years ago, Sears strong-armed the taxpayers of the state of Illinois to extend their previous 23 tax incentives an additional 23 years. The initial package was reported to have cost the taxpayers $250 million.
The deal two years ago gave another estimated $150 million to Sears. Overall, Sears will cost the state over $400 million. That's almost $10 million a year. The vast majority is taxes that Community Unit District 300 will, lose. They've estimated that they have lost $14 million per year from this deal.
The justification that Sears, and the politicians primarily from Hoffman Estates, gave was the potential loss of 6,100 jobs at the Sears facility in Hoffman Estates and the potential loss of jobs from companies that provide support to Sears.
Lately, I am reading more about the potential demise of Sears. With this in mind, I contacted my state representatives to determine what penalties Sears would incur, if they didn't live up to their bargain. Depending on who is correct, Sears can reduce their Hoffman Estates workforce to either 4,250, or 4,000, employees and still be in compliance with their tax incentives agreement. Supposedly, if Sears defaults on the new agreement they have to pay back the incentives that they got. As it stands Sears has already started to reduce their workforce in Hoffman Estates. Numbers are not available for the size of their current workforce.
I hope that the politicians in the state of Illinois start looking at these tax incentive programs a lot more carefully. They recently gave more tax incentives to nine more companies. ADM and others are standing in line with their hands out.
I'm sorry, but given the financial condition of this state, how much more corporate welfare can the taxpayers be forced to give?
Walter E. O'Brien