By Monica Stabile
Illinois House Democrats passed legislation on Monday that would require businesses which move all or part of their operations out-of-state to repay money from tax breaks.
The Keep Illinois Business Act would preserve taxpayer’s money by preventing companies from “abusing” Illinois tax incentives and hurting economic development, said Rep. Michael Halpin, the bill’s sponsor.
“We need to hold companies accountable that take advantage of Illinois tax credits,” said Halpin, a Democrat from Rock Island. “We want corporations to follow through with their promise to keep jobs in Illinois.”
The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which monitors businesses receiving state tax incentives, would be in charge of notifying businesses that may violate the proposed legislation. An administrative hearing would be conducted to determine whether to revoke the businesses’ tax credits.
Republican lawmakers were concerned that the Keep Illinois Business Act would prevent companies from doing business with the state.
“We live in a competitive environment,” said Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights. “Businesses are going to see this and cause them not to look at Illinois.”
During the heated debate, Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Republican from Wheaton, openly mocked the legislation, suggesting that Illinois should start taxing private citizens – including retirees and college students – who move out of the state for various reasons.
“What we really could do is erect a border fence and then have gates where we tax people that left the state just because they didn’t decide to stay here and do business,” Ives said. “I mean this bill is ridiculous.”
Another bill sponsor, Democratic Rep. Jay Hoffman of Belleville, blasted Republican critics for “making excuses” for businesses.
“We’re going to let them [businesses] hightail it out of here [Illinois], take our jobs with them and our money with them too?” Hoffman asked. “It’s insane, these are taxpayers dollars — if you [businesses] steal our money, we should get it back.”
The legislation passed the House 63-48 and is headed to the Senate.
Contact Monica Stabile at firstname.lastname@example.org.