The Illinois General Assembly must learn to say no to blackmail by corporations who refuse to pay their fair share for the right to do business in our state. The threats by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) to shirk their taxes or leave the state is essentially a scheme to blackmail Illinois taxpayers for what amounts to as much as $180 Million. We find this completely immoral and unacceptable.
SB 405 is a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation. At a time when the State of Illinois cannot pay its own bills, SB 405 would grant a massive tax dodge primarily to CME and CBOE, costing the state between $120 million and $180 million with another $15 million going to Sears.
Just last year, many service providers, unions, civic groups and community organizations across the state worked together to support a tax increase on our own families and communities to stave off more draconian cuts to public education, public safety, infrastructure and services for seniors and the disabled. Now, members of the General Assembly want to take those taxes out of the pockets of working families and away from the communities and individuals and put them into the pockets of the wealthiest corporations in our state.
The plan to replace this lost revenue is to decouple corporate taxes from a federal loophole that essentially gives corporations a double dip tax dodge. That is a great policy that we support. But the funds from closing that loophole should be used to close Illinois' budget gap and stave off more draconian cuts to public education and the vital social safety net services to seniors, children and the disabled, not as giveaways to highly-profitable corporations. The alleged trade off in increasing earned income tax credits for the poor is a trade off of tax relief for the poor who need it against tax relief for the wealthy who do not. The General Assembly should relieve the burden on the poor without that trade.
CME and CBOE are part of the speculation industry that caused the financial crisis and resulting recession. Ironically, the Senate Executive Committee’s passage of SB 405 during the first week of the fall veto session came on the same day that CME’s own preview of its 3rd Quarter earnings show that it is a very wealthy and profitable company. By one estimate, these corporations had a higher profit margin (percentage of revenues going to profits) than any of the top 100 corporations in the country. Why should they be the recipients of corporate welfare? Illinois and its citizens cannot afford it.
A better way to spend the proceeds from decoupling would be for Illinois to pay its bills to community-based service providers who have to do more with less in this economy.
Rev. Marilyn Pagan Banks is a member of Make Wall Street Pay Illinois.