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Sears, CME tax breaks on way to governor

Two weeks after a tax-break bill went down in flames, legislation giving two Illinois companies relief is on its way to Gov. Pat Quinn.

The Senate passed a bill today giving Sears and CME Group tax breaks after they threatened to leave the state. Quinn is expected to sign it. 

Lawmakers took two extra trips to Springfield and eventually split the bill into two parts in order to get it through. Low-income, working families also will get some relief through bigger tax refunds. The package will cost Illinois about $350 million annually.

House Democratic Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, who co-sponsored the bill, said as long as other states keep trying to lure-away Illinois business, companies will continue to ask for special tax breaks in Springfield.

"Do we respond or do we just say, good-bye? Or do we even call their bluff? I mean, sometimes I think we should start calling the occasional bluff and say wait a minute, is this for real because the costs of moving are certainly significant," she said.

Currie said the bill that helps Sears and CME includes accountability measures to make sure the companies only get the relief if they stay put.

For Sears, the extension of a special taxing district will continue for another 15 years. CME Group called for tax relief after lawmakers raised the corporate income tax rate in January.

Both firms said they would consider moving to another state if legislators couldn't strike a deal to keep them.

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