CHICAGO (AP) — Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner called Wednesday for ending certain corporate tax breaks and “special deals” he says are unfair to Illinois’ working families.
The wealthy Winnetka businessman ripped Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn for allowing tax incentives for companies that later laid off workers and tax “loopholes” for the oil industry and people who own yachts and jets. He also said he’d eliminate a sales tax exemption on newsprint and ink, among others.
“It’s time Illinois starts treating taxpayers the right way,” Rauner said. “That begins by closing special interest loopholes and ending the days of taxpayer handouts for companies that lay off workers.”
The plan is the latest in a series of steps Rauner says he would take to change how things are done in Springfield. But several of the ideas were ones Quinn has advocated for years and the Democrat-controlled Legislature hasn’t acted on.
Quinn campaign spokeswoman Brooke Anderson described Rauner’s plan as “stolen Quinn proposals and hypocritical ideas.” She said the multimillionaire venture capitalist and his friends have long benefited from policies Rauner now calls “corporate welfare.”
“A corporate welfare king like him hardly has a shred of credibility when it comes to reforming a system that has made him a member of the .01 percent,” Anderson said.
Rauner’s plan took aim at the state’s main business tax credit, the Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or EDGE, program, saying some of the deals allowed companies to lay off workers. That included Sears Holding Corp., which laid off about 100 employees just months after the Legislature approved a $150 million tax credit intended to keep the company from leaving the state.
At the time the layoffs left about 6,100 people working at the Hoffman Estates site. Under the terms of the deal, Sears was required to keep at least 4,250 workers there.
Quinn has defended the tax credit, saying Illinois would have seen greater job losses without it. But the Chicago Democrat, who’s seeking his second full term, also has pushed for changes to the program.
Rauner said he would cap EDGE tax credits for job retention. He also said he’d veto any so-called “special” EDGE tax credits for companies, such as a $64.7 million package for engine maker Navistar to move its headquarters and 2,200 jobs from one Chicago suburb to another one three miles away, rather than to another state.
Rauner’s six-page proposal didn’t state how much money Illinois could save by ending all five of the tax loopholes he wants to eliminate. But three of them cost the state about $132 million per year, the proposal states.
Rauner also is leading an effort to approve term limits for legislators. And earlier this month he laid out a plan to cut spending that included selling most of the state’s airplanes, moving legislators from a pension to a 401(k) and ending a program that imported prairie chickens from Kansas by plane.
Quinn’s campaign also criticized that proposal, saying Rauner has yet to specifically outline how he would fix Illinois’ massive financial problems. Quinn’s solution includes extending an income tax increase that is scheduled to roll back in January.
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