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Students To Rally At Capitol To Oppose Tax Break For Sears

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Illinois State Capitol

Illinois State Capitol buillding in Springfield (AP Photo)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – Staff, parents and students from School District 300 in the northwestern suburbs were headed to Springfield on Monday to tell lawmakers they oppose extending existing tax incentives to keep Sears headquarters in Hoffman Estates.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports, Sears is considering moving its corporate headquarters out of Illinois, with a tax incentive package from the state set to expire next year.

District 300 spokeswoman Allison Strupeck said students have an excused absence – with parental permission – to rally in Springfield, asking lawmakers not to extend the tax incentives.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty Reports

The General Assembly is set to consider legislation that would extend Sears’ economic development area for another 15 years. When the tax break was established in 1989, Sears was threatening to move to North Carolina, prompting the state to establish tax breaks for the company to move from the Sears Tower to Hoffman Estates.

Extending the tax breaks beyond next year would take away $14 million a year from School District 300, so the district has organized a rally of about 600 students, parents, teachers and staff at noon Monday at the Illinois Capitol building.

“Make sure that the state legislators see the faces and hear the voices of the people who would be so devastated if Amendment 3 of Senate Bill 540 is approved,” Strupeck said.

Although the District supports trying to keep Sears in Hoffman Estates, Strupeck said the state should come up with a new plan that doesn’t place such a large financial burden on the school district.

“There should be a win-win alternative plan that more equitably spreads the financial responsibility of keeping Sears here across the entire state,” Strupeck said.

The fall veto session officially begins on Tuesday and some lawmakers are already in Springfield to prepare. A few legislative committees also are scheduled to meet on Monday.

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