It looks like Illinois is finally getting back its most important job-creating incentives tool.
More than three months after Edge program—Economic Development for a Growing Economy tax credits—expired, caught up in the partisan warfare over the state budget, lawmakers on Aug. 13 are set to take final action to restore the program. And I’m told that everybody involved, including Gov. Bruce Rauner, is on board.
Scheduled for a vote in the Senate is a measure sponsored by Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Chicago, that would somewhat reduce the value of the payroll tax credit and focus the program more on helping bring new jobs to impoverished area, but still put the development tool back in the state’s toolbox.
The bill passed the House on a 102-5 vote, but stalled in the Senate. That caused some embarrassment a couple of weeks ago when it became apparent Illinois couldn’t even begin to compete for the big new Foxconn plant that’s going to southeast Wisconsin, because it had no incentives it could offer.
Sponsor Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, who is handling the bill with GOP colleague Sen. Pam Althoff of Crystal Lake, tells me the weekend vote is on and all signals are go.
“It’s a damned miracle,” Bush said, verbally shaking her head at how long it took to get this far. “We really needed to do this in the regular legislative session,” which ended June 30, “but with all the focus on the budget, all the (legislative) oxygen was used up.”
Sources tell me Rauner, who’d wanted changes in the old policy, is now happy enough that he’ll sign the bill.
In fact, Bush said the GOP governor got everything he wanted except a clause allowing recipients to sell or transfer Edge credits to someone else. “We certainly can work that out at a later time,” she said.
Bush emphasized that she’ll be running a “clean” bill, one that’s identical to the version already approved by the House. So Senate action should be final.
“We need Edge credits in place,” said Bush, whose district is not too far from where the Foxconn plant will be. “We need to do everything we can to be competitive.”