The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

National News

November 4, 2013

Lawmakers: Tax-break deals need more scrutiny

(Continued)

• Zurich North America insurance wants a payroll tax break in exchange for relocating its Schaumburg offices to another location in Schaumburg. The company would retain 1,000 jobs, create at least 250 more and make capital investments of at least $128 million.

• Univar, a chemical distribution company based in Redmond, Wash., is seeking incentives worth $5 million to move its headquarters to Downers Grove. Univar would keep 100 jobs at its two current Illinois locations and add at least 69 jobs.

• Fred Crespo, a Hoffman Estates Democrat, is pushing incentives legislation for High Voltage Software, a video-game maker in his district. The bill would give the company tax credits it says it needs to compete with mainly Canadian competitors.

Barbara Flynn Currie of Chicago, the second-ranking Democrat in the Illinois House, has called the requests for such tax breaks the equivalent of blackmail. But she says she isn’t sure the General Assembly can do anything more ambitious to evaluate the incentives in a larger, systematic way.

“Legislating that, you can’t do,” she said. “It becomes very difficult if there are companies out there that want to use those incentives.”

But Manar believes legislation Quinn signed into law in May will provide at least a start. The law, which Manar sponsored, requires DCEO to develop an economic plan for the state by mid-2014 and update it every year, including a review of tax credits and how they’re handled.

“Clearly it’s a necessary piece,” Manar said. “I’m anxious to see how we can make it better.”

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