Illinois lawmakers are set to meet Friday morning in Chicago to consider possible reforms to a controversial state tax credit program.
Critics of the program known as EDGE point out how companies have qualified for millions of dollars in incentives even as they laid off hundreds of workers or failed to create promised jobs. Concerns also have been raised over the lack of information made public on negotiated deals and how special tax breaks largely go to big companies.
A case in point is Motorola Mobility, which laid off more than 1,000 workers in 2012 and fell below its requirement to retain at least 2,500 jobs but was still eligible for a tax credit worth about $11 million.
The company has said its incentive is assessed and disbursed quarterly, allowing it to draw a credit for the quarters it meets its job retention commitments. Motorola Mobility is the only one allowed to draw credits quarterly, according to a spokesman with the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which administers the program. And it doesn\’t have to create a single job, according to its contract with the state.
The Libertyville-based company, owned by Google, is among nine companies in the program allowed to keep their employees\’ tax withholdings. Archer Daniels Midland and Office Depot were among a half a dozen companies that failed to get that special incentive last year.
Since the EDGE program was created in 1999, the state has pledged more than $800 million in tax incentives to about 300 companies. Nearly half of those pledges were made in 2011 and 2012. The large increase is partly due to more companies joining the program and to the rise in the personal income tax rate, a factor in determining the value of the incentive.
The House Revenue and Finance Committee and the House State Government Administration Committee will meet at 10:30 a.m. in room C-600 of the Michael A. Bilandic Building.
Lawmakers are to hear testimony from representatives of the Small Business Advocacy Council, Illinois Manufacturers Association, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Good Jobs First, Illinois Retail Merchants Association, Tax Foundation, Taxpayers Federation of Illinois, the Illinois Policy Institute and Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.