A fellow retired teacher went up to millionaire gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy and asked him what he was going to do about the $130 billion state pension liability.
Kennedy had no answer.
It’s a great question to ask all those running for governor of Illinois. And anyone running for state legislative office.
Everybody is claiming to be a progressive these days.
Which is fine and all.
But about that pension liability?
I have written before about the EDGE tax credit given to the state’s largest corporations. It was started by George Ryan and continued under Democratic Party Governor Pat Quinn. And now, Rauner.
It was supposed to be a job creation tax credit. But it is given to them with the promise they won’t cut jobs. In exchange they get to keep all the money that they collect from their employees in state income taxes.
No. It’s true.
Since 2015, Illinois has promised $112 million to Amazon, and $225 million to other companies, in exchange for the promise of creating jobs in Illinois — or even just not eliminating the ones they’ve already got.
A 2015 Chicago Tribune investigation found widespread abuse in the program responsible for these tax incentives, called EDGE (or “Economic Development for a Growing Economy”), with companies getting millions in tax breaks while simply shuffling jobs from one location in the state to another, or even cutting them altogether.
But faced with a nearly three year budget crisis, a bill has been introduced in the Democratic controlled legislature to make the credits transferrable.
Right now, companies can only receive as much money in EDGE credits as they have to pay in state taxes: If they’re eligible for $20 million in EDGE credits but only have a $15 million state tax bill, there’s no way for them to get that last $5 million in credits.
But if EDGE were “transferable,” that company could sell its last $5 million in tax credits to another company with a big enough tax bill to use them. That means Illinois taxpayers would ultimately be subsidizing companies that had not even had to promise to create or save any jobs at all.
If you should run into Kennedy, JB, Ameya, Dan or any of the rest of them who are claiming to be progressives, you have two questions:
What are you going to do about the $130 billion pension liability?
And how many days with you in office will it take to get rid of these tax credits to the corporations?