WBEZ | tax credits http://www.wbez.org/tags/tax-credits Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Job cuts to cost Motorola tax credits http://www.wbez.org/news/job-cuts-cost-motorola-tax-credits-101706 <p><p>Google Inc.&#39;s plan to cut more than 700 jobs at Motorola Mobility&#39;s operations in&nbsp;Illinois&nbsp;means the company will lose the tax credits it receives from the state.</p><p>The&nbsp;Illinois&nbsp;jobs are among 4,000 job cuts Google announced at the struggling cellphone company Monday.</p><p>Earlier this year, the&nbsp;Illinois&nbsp;Legislature agreed to give Motorola Mobility more than $100 million in state tax credits if it maintained a work force of at least 2,500 in the state.</p><p>Illinois&nbsp;Department of Commerce spokeswoman Sandra Jones says Motorola Mobility has informed the state that the cuts will reduce the company&#39;s&nbsp;Illinois&nbsp;work force to about 2,250. Jones says the company will be able to reapply for the tax credits if it hires more people in the future.</p></p> Tue, 14 Aug 2012 10:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/job-cuts-cost-motorola-tax-credits-101706 Act locally, think Broadway: Tax credits for big commercial shows http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-02/act-locally-think-broadway-tax-credits-big-commercial-shows-96896 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-02/6710697131_d7e310a4e8.jpg" alt="" /><p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><p><span style="font-size:10px;">Listen to Jonathan Abarbanel and Kelly Kleiman discuss tax breaks for theaters on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>, and Chicago Fusion Theatre's 'Las Hermanas Padillas'</span></p><p><span class="filefield_audio_insert_player" href="/sites/default/files/120302 848 SEG B_0.mp3" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-126862" player="null">120302 848 SEG B.mp3</span></p></div></div><p>Late last year, the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation granting extensive tax breaks to a pair of super-wealthy corporate entities (Sears and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange) in response to their threats that they would take their business elsewhere. This legislation, which turned even reformist governor Pat Quinn into a political whore, was widely reported and debated in the media.</p><p>What was not debated and little-reported was that the bill included additional provisions providing tax “incentives” (to use the politic word) for other businesses as well, one of them being Broadway producers of live theater, who now may be granted tax credits similar to those offered movie producers who bring feature film and TV production to Illinois.</p><p>The wording of the theater-related provisions is significantly odd. The preamble states, "It shall be the policy of this State to promote and encourage the&nbsp; training and hiring of Illinois residents who represent the diversity of the Illinois population through the creation and implementation of training, education, and recruitment programs organized in cooperation with Illinois colleges and universities, labor organizations, and the commercial for-profit live theater industry." It reminds me of my high school intelligence tests: “Which of these words does not belong in the group?”</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-02/6710697131_d7e310a4e8.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 463px;" title="(Flickr/Steve Minor)"></p><p>The bill goes on to state that tax credits for Illinois labor and production expenditures will be granted only to producers holding an “accredited theater production certificate,” and that said certificates will be issued only to shows spending $100,000 or more which are performed in theaters of 1,200 seats or more, and either are scheduled for Broadway within 12 months of playing Chicago or are scheduled for a “long-run” here, which is defined as more than eight weeks and at least six shows a week.</p><p>Whether benefiting Sears, the CME or a Broadway show, this bill is an egregious example of special interest legislation, and special interest legislation always is sleazy, sneaky, skanky, shady, greasy, garbanzo and Doc. One thing it definitely is not is Bashful. Each and every piece of it has its defenders and apologists, but the essence of it—literally by definition—is a denial of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Whether in Congress, state legislature, county board or city council, such laws rarely are debated, often&nbsp; are passed in the dark of night (such as being tacked on to some unrelated piece of legislation) and virtually never are transparent. Whenever a piece of special interest legislation is enacted, you can smell the political fat sizzling in the pan.</p><p>Yeah, but this one is <em>my</em> special interest legislation: it serves the industry I cover as a critic and arts business reporter and, if successful, it will make my work and Chicago theater-going a lot more exciting. Whenever our Downtown theaters are doing business, a helluva lot of others also do business: hotels, restaurants, parking garages, taxi cabs, etc. as well as stage hands, electricians, musicians, ushers, concessionaires, actors, etc. All of these service-providers, both individuals and companies, in turn pay their taxes to the city, county and state. The performing arts (and other arts) are a proven economic engine that returns far, far more to the city/county/state than any public dollars invested.</p><p>Maybe this thing actually is good for everyone, even though it directly benefits only a very narrow range of entitites. Who does it benefit? The voting and tax-paying public, in whose name this law was enacted and signed, has every right to ask.</p><p>The bill’s set of parameters could provide tax credits on the one hand for a pre-Broadway show playing here for three or four weeks (as did <em>The Adams Family</em> and <em>The Producers</em> for example) or, on the other hand, for the umpteenth repeat visit by <em>Cats</em> or <em>Mamma Mia</em>, providing they stayed here for at least eight weeks and a day. On that basis, the number of possible producers and production companies is open-ended.</p><p>Far more limiting is the bill’s requirement that an “accredited theater production” must be staged in a venue with 1,200 or more seats. In theory, this could benefit shows coming to the Rosemont Theatre, the Chicago Theatre, the Civic Opera House or Aurora’s Paramount Theatre, for example. However, the current professional theater landscape strongly suggests that the most likely candidates are shows coming to theaters under the Broadway In Chicago brand name.</p><p>Broadway In Chicago (BIC) is the local outpost of the New York-based Nederlander Organization, which owns a huge amount of theater real estate across the country and also invests money in Broadway shows. In Chicago, the Nederlander Organization owns the Oriental, Cadillac Palace and Bank of America theaters, leases the Broadway Playhouse (former Drury Lane Theatre in Water Tower Place) and also programs occasional theater attractions into the Auditorium Theatre, all under the Broadway In Chicago name. With the exception of the 500-seat Broadway Playhouse, all the BIC houses can host “accredited theater productions.”</p><p>BIC makes it money by renting out its properties, and by providing management and marketing services, so the more shows presented in its properties, the merrier all around. It should come as no surprise that BIC executives were among the movers and shakers who moved this bill along. They don’t like their theaters to sit dark and empty for weeks or even months at a time, as the Cadillac Palace and Oriental have been sitting recently (and will through most of the summer).</p><p>The BIC folks, and their bosses at the Nederlander Organization in New York, are nothing if not savvy and smart players. BIC theaters already have played host to numerous long-run attractions and pre-Broadway try-outs. <em>Jersey Boys</em> was here for over 18 months and <em>Wicked</em> for over two years. And pre-Broadway try-outs over the last decade include <em>The Producers</em>, <em>Jekyll and Hyde</em>, <em>Pirate Queen</em>, <em>The Adams Family</em> and <em>Sweet Smell of Success</em>. Now they want more such shows to come more often, hence the tax credit.</p><p>They want the market value of a blockbuster Broadway hit sitting down here for months or years, and they want the glamor of big-name stars trying out a brand-new show. Frankly, I want them, too. Both of these things would make Chicago even more important than it already is as a national theater center, and that would make Chicago’s theater critics—hey, that’s me—more powerful and prominent nationally.</p><p>However, it plays out, this new legislation already has greased the skids: a Broadway In Chicago executive has told me that Chicago will see a half-dozen shows in the next year that will take advantage of the tax credits, the first of them being the pre-Broadway <em>Kinky Boots</em> (with Cindy Lauper) coming in the fall, followed in December by <em>The Book of Mormon</em>, which will sit-down here for a multiple-month run.</p><p>But is there any direct benefit to audiences, to the folks who slap down the debit card to buy the tickets? Will the thousands of dollars in weekly/monthly savings be passed along in the form of lower ticket prices? Will the $100 dollar orchestra seat fall to $80? The $65 balcony seat to $50? The $40 second balcony seat to $25? Now, <em>that</em> would have direct and meaningful value to the Good People of Illinois in whose name this legislation was signed and sealed.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 02 Mar 2012 13:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-02/act-locally-think-broadway-tax-credits-big-commercial-shows-96896 Navistar layoffs add to doubts about incentives http://www.wbez.org/content/navistar-layoffs-add-doubts-about-incentives <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-23/AP05060901633.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="The workers helped design International brand trucks. (AP/File)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-23/Navistar_truck_SCALED.jpg" style="margin: 9px 18px 5px 1px; float: left; width: 308px; height: 207px;" title="The workers helped design International brand trucks. (AP/File)">Sears Holdings Corp. and Chicago’s financial exchanges have quit threatening to pull up stakes now that Illinois has enacted tax breaks for them. But it remains unclear whether state incentives to big companies are wise uses of economic-development resources. A personnel shift by Lisle-based Navistar International Corp. will add fresh doubt.</p><p>WBEZ has learned that some new jobs Navistar promised under an Illinois incentive agreement are coming to the state at the expense of unionized workers in Indiana.</p><p>Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced the Navistar incentives last year after the company threatened to pack up its headquarters in west suburban Warrenville and leave the state. The deal committed Illinois to a $64.7 million bundle of tax credits and job-training subsidies for the company. It committed Navistar to moving the headquarters to Lisle, a couple miles east, and to adding 400 full-time Illinois employees.</p><p>Navistar’s first report to the state about the jobs isn’t due until next year, so it’s hard to tell how many positions the company has created thus far. Employees confirm that dozens of new engineers and designers are working at the Lisle facility.</p><p>Navistar is creating those jobs as it phases out its Truck Development and Technology Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, just three hours southeast of Chicago. The latest Fort Wayne cuts came December 2, when the company laid off 130 employees, mostly engineers and designers who are United Auto Workers members. Before the layoff, some of the Fort Wayne workers had to help train their Lisle replacements.</p><p>Navistar has “rewritten the job descriptions so the people that used to do the work here — the union folks — don’t qualify anymore on paper,” said Craig Randolph, a design engineer the company laid off after 15 years at the Fort Wayne center. “So they’re eliminating the high-seniority, older employees like myself and replacing them with nonunion college kids — guys fresh out of school. And the taxpayers in Illinois are subsidizing the whole thing.”</p><p>Asked for a response, Navistar spokeswoman Karen Denning called it unusual for engineers to have union representation in the first place, a claim disputed by auto industry experts. Denning also sent a statement that said the company’s decision to shift the Fort Wayne jobs to Lisle was “based solely on our desire to compete in the global economy.” The statement added that Navistar has allowed many Fort Wayne employees to relocate to the Chicago area and stay with the company.</p><p>The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity sent a statement that doesn’t directly address whether the Navistar incentives have anything to do with the Fort Wayne layoffs. The statement says the state’s assistance to companies like Navistar over the last decade has “created and retained tens of thousands of jobs,” including unionized positions.</p><p>There’s not much proof to back up such claims. Scholars who study the effects of corporate incentives point out that companies decide where to operate based on proximity to suppliers, markets, transportation and so on. Another factor is whether workers are bargaining collectively. Just this summer, Navistar announced it was closing a unionized plant in Chatham, Ontario. The company has moved that work to nonunion facilities in Texas and Mexico.</p><p>“I don’t think that the [Illinois] incentives are causing Navistar to shift around its workforce,” said Rachel Weber, an associate professor of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “But they do send a message that the public sector and taxpayers are validating these kinds of activities. And, if you asked a lot of taxpayers in the state of Illinois whether they’d want to support these kinds of activities, I don’t think they’d be so happy about it.”</p><p>Weber pointed out that the economies of Illinois and Indiana intertwine closely and said it would help both states to quit poaching jobs from each other. Eliminating state incentives for corporations, she added, would free up resources for everything from workforce readiness to small-business incubation.</p><p>The union, for its part, didn’t return calls about the Fort Wayne layoffs and isn’t creating a public fuss about them. That raises questions about the role of UAW Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams, who serves on Navistar’s board of directors under a decades-old agreement that reserved the seat for the union. Because Williams draws salaries from both the UAW and Navistar, and because he once directed a UAW region that includes Illinois but not Indiana, some of the union’s Fort Wayne members accuse him of hanging them out to dry.</p></p> Fri, 23 Dec 2011 16:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/navistar-layoffs-add-doubts-about-incentives Jackson pushes Obama to focus on construction http://www.wbez.org/story/jackson-pushes-obama-focus-construction-91531 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-05/Jesse Jackson.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>As President Obama gears up for a Thursday speech before Congress about his jobs agenda, a civil rights leader in his hometown is urging him to focus on proposing massive investment in construction projects.</p><p>With official unemployment hovering above 9 percent, the president is expected to propose training for the long-term jobless, tax credits for companies that hire new workers and an extension of payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits.</p><p>Rev. Jesse Jackson said those steps won’t be enough. “You put people back to work fixing our infrastructure, our houses and our transportation,” he said. “We work our way out of the hole. We don’t complain our way out. [President Obama] has the key to, in fact, invest in a mammoth way in putting America back to work.”</p><p>In a Monday speech to Detroit union activists, the president did bring up infrastructure. But Republicans, who control the U.S. House, are indicating they will try to block new outlays that would add to the budget deficit.</p></p> Tue, 06 Sep 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/jackson-pushes-obama-focus-construction-91531 Incentives for energy efficiency http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/incentives-energy-efficiency <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/biden energy efficiency.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The old plastic and tape approach isn&rsquo;t the only way to bring down energy costs. Over the last few years government agencies have been providing incentives to consumers willing to do energy upgrades on their homes. Tax credits and rebates were available to homeowners for a whole host of energy savers &ndash; insulation, appliances, windows, heating and cooling systems.<br /><br />To talk about whether this push resulted in energy savings &ndash; and more pennies in people&rsquo;s piggy banks -&quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; spoke to its business guru, David Greising. Greising is a reporter for the <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/" target="_blank">Chicago News Cooperative</a> and he regularly joins &quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; for chats about money matters.</p><p><em>Music Button: The Books, &quot;Tokyo&quot;, from the CD Lemon of Pink, (Tomlab) </em></p></p> Thu, 13 Jan 2011 15:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/incentives-energy-efficiency