$400M EV deal-closing fund clears major hurdle in Springfield – Crain’s Chicago Business

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The measure also would somewhat revamp another state incentive program, known as Edge, and extend the state’s film tax credit to 2033.

By a 86-23 vote, the House also approved and sent to the Senate a measure extending statewide a guarantee that private-sector workers will earn a minimum of 5 days of personal leave a year for illness, family emergencies and the like. Such laws now exist only in Chicago and in suburban Cook County.

The final bill was a compromise that had the backing of key labor and business groups. The measure would take effect Jan. 1, 2024.

PREVIOUSLY

A measure that would create a huge deal-closing fund to lure electric vehicle makers and other big manufacturers here cleared a major hurdle at midday and could be on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk by day’s end.

The action came when, on an 11-4 vote, the House Revenue & Finance Committee approved and sent to the House floor for final action in that chamber a bill that would give Pritzker the same kind of discretionary incentive pot that governors in states including Michigan, Ohio and Texas already have.

In Illinois’ case, lawmakers already have authorized putting $400 million into the fund, which is being created with an eye toward getting Stellantis to convert its Belvidere Jeep factory to EV production but could be used for non-EV projects. Other provisions of the bill would make it easier for companies to get tax breaks under the state’s existing Edge program without having to prove they’d get a better deal in another state.

“I think it looks good, very good,” said committee Chairman Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, who expects to bring the bill to the House floor this afternoon. The final version then must be approved by the Senate, but knowledgeable sources said they expect that to occur.

It’s not clear whether the House will vote on the EV bill first, or instead await a compromise bill to ban the sale of assault weapons that also is coming from the Senate.

The EV bill—the latest and, in some ways, most expansive of three measures that Pritzker has pushed in the last year or so—is a sign the state is making a serious effort to attract the kind of growth industries that generally have bypassed Illinois in recent years. And the measure has hit some bumps along the way.

One came when members of the Legislative Black Caucus asked if minorities would gain from the measure. That query was handled by adding a clause that would ban state incentives to move the Chicago Bears from Soldier Field on the South Side to Arlington Heights.

Other concerns have been raised about what kind of oversight lawmakers will have to prevent abuse of the fund.

A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity testified there is no oversight in some states that have such funds. Zalewski said the latest amendment to the plan requires the leaders of the General Assembly—the House speaker and Senate president—to be notified when a deal is imminent and when it is agreed to by the governor.

The new House GOP Leader, Tony McCombie, said Republican leaders and not just Democrats should be notified, too, and was one of four votes in committee against the bill. Zalewski replied that such deals often move in a hurry and that the heads of the two chambers will be in the loop.

The measure has the support of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and comes as industry sources say the state is close to luring some significant deals.

In other action on the last full scheduled day before a new General Assembly is sworn in, another bill that would grant private-sector workers statewide a minimum of five days a year of paid leave for illness or other personal reasons picked up considerable momentum. Chicago previously adopted a similar law for those who work in the city.

“We have a deal,” said state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria. The latest version is to be amended onto a pending bill, but it’s not immediately clear whether there is enough time to deal with it before tomorrow’s deadline.

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January 10, 2023 at 08:48PM

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