I am a member of the District 7 West MoveOn Council, comprising mainly residents in the Oak Park vicinity. One issue the council is concerned about is corporate influence in our government. Last week state government chose to do the bidding of powerful corporations by approving Senate Bill 397. The bill, enacted as Public Act 97-0636, included $100 million in corporate welfare to the biggest corporations in Illinois — the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and Sears.
The most egregious is the giveaway to CME and CBOE. These two institutions employ 2,500; however, nothing in the legislation requires them to keep these jobs or create new ones. CME and CBOE will receive a handout of $85 million while Illinoisans are struggling to make ends meet and the state is cutting services. I believe this is an insult to Illinoisans that Springfield would provide such a handout to companies that jointly make over $4 billion in profits, with no accountability to create jobs.
Sears currently employs about 6,100 at its headquarters site, yet the new law requires that Sears only keep 4,250, with no requirement to create new jobs. Sears could lay off 1,850 employees and still get the $15 million tax cut. That is an insult to the unemployed who are struggling to find work. The law also provides a property tax cut for the Sears headquarters, which will further hurt the struggling school district in Hoffman Estates that has been crumbling due to tax cuts to corporations like Sears.
Our state legislature is starting to bend to the whim of the powerful corporations in Illinois at the expense of the people of Illinois. I am gravely disappointed with representatives Yarbrough, and Lilly and senators Lightford and Harmon, who voted for this legislation. We need them fighting for the people, for jobs and corporate accountability, not for corporate profits. I commend Representative Ford, who continues to fight for the average citizen of Illinois. He is a true progressive fighter in Springfield.