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Why corporate welfare thrives in Prairie State

Quinn too eager to hand out big EDGE tax credits

SPRINGFIELD – During the 6 years that Pat Quinn has been governor of Illinois, he has managed to give away more than half a billion dollars in tax breaks to favored corporations.

Mind you, this is the same administration that jacked up income taxes for the rest of us by 67 percent.

And it’s the same administration that has presided over a state government that is months late in paying its bills, has the worst credit rating of the 50 states, and has the worst-funded pension system in the nation.

And yet, Quinn has put corporate subsidies into overdrive through the state’s EDGE tax credit program.

Companies such as Boeing, Continental Tire, and Ford all have been slurping at the state trough at the expense of ordinary taxpayers.

The secret for businesses to get these handouts is to simply threaten to move elsewhere.

It’s hardly a fair way to administer funds.

Don’t believe me?

Well, here’s a question to ask yourself: Who do you think is more deserving of a tax break – your family or Ford?

Yeah, I thought so.

Now, the Quinn administration likes to trot out some nonsense about how many jobs this corporate welfare has “retained” or attracted to Illinois.

They tack the number at about 61,000.

Those numbers simply aren’t believable.

And here’s why: No one knows what is going on in the minds of corporate CEOs.

Would they uproot their businesses and leave the Land of Lincoln if they didn’t get a handout from the state? Probably not. But we’ll never know.

More important, when government creates an uneven playing field, jobs aren’t just added; they are also subtracted.

Subsidized companies may add jobs, but what about their competitors that are forced to lay off workers because they have trouble competing?

Or what about working families and small businesses forced to pay higher taxes to fund this practice of cronyism? They will have less to spend, and jobs that otherwise would be created won’t happen because money is being funneled to favored corporations.

But no effort is made by the administration to calculate how many jobs their program may be costing the Prairie State.

Even the bosses for the government worker unions are appalled by Quinn’s penchant for corporate giveaways. It just goes to show you, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

A far fairer way to promote economic development would be to simply lower taxes for everyone – families, small businesses, large corporations – everyone.

No special favors would be given.

Industries would decide to stay, grow in, or come to Illinois based on the state’s overall business climate.

No longer would government pick winners or losers.

That job would be left to the consumer.

And yet, Quinn, as well as his Republican and Democratic predecessors, have blanched at such a notion.

That would mean no more press releases trumpeting how many jobs they have “created.”

It would mean no more ribbon cuttings and photo ops to attend and brag about the latest business they have anointed with taxpayer cash.

Politicians would call that a nightmare, but for the rest of Illinois, it would be a dream.

Note to readers: Scott Reeder’s column is underwritten by the Illinois Policy Institute.

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