Lawmakers could start debating Sears' future today

  • Lawmakers might have just three days to piece together a package of tax incentives to try to keep Sears in Hoffman Estates.

      Lawmakers might have just three days to piece together a package of tax incentives to try to keep Sears in Hoffman Estates. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/8/2011 5:02 AM

SPRINGFIELD -- Lawmakers return to the Capitol Tuesday for their last three scheduled days of the year, starting with a possible morning hearing over new legislation intended to keep Sears Holdings Corp. in Hoffman Estates.

The latest proposal, introduced Monday, would extend Sears' tax deal with Hoffman Estates, as well as provide for more money for all affected local governments -- including Community Unit District 300. How much isn't spelled out in the new plan.

 

But the new proposal does not include job-creation credits the company has sought. Those could be woven into different legislation. The Senate might push its own proposal, as well.

The new proposal includes a provision that Sears would be penalized, losing some of the money the company gained through incentives, if it decides to later leave Hoffman Estates.

Sears officials have said they plan to make a decision on whether to stay in Hoffman Estates by the end of the year. If the company holds to that deadline, the next three days could be key to the future of the retail giant in Illinois. The company says it's been in talks with Texas and Ohio, and possibly other states, about a possible move.

The debate over Sears credits is now politically tied into tax breaks for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, research and development incentives for businesses across Illinois, tax breaks for the working poor and other provisions.

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So the fate of Sears deal could float or sink depending on how lawmakers feel about the rest of those plans. Gov. Pat Quinn called the Sears provisions "important," but also said it was part of a package deal.

"We're not going to do just one part of the equation," he said.

District 300 officials released a fiery statement about the new legislation, calling it "poorly written" and appalling, continuing their outspoken criticism of how lawmakers have handled the Sears issue.

"The bill filed today is horribly wasteful in reaching its goal of keeping Sears here," Superintendent Michael Bregy said in the statement.

District 300 officials are planning to be in Springfield this week to lobby lawmakers.

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