Sears thoughts, a year later
The New York Times this weekend had a lengthy story that people who followed the tax breaks saga of Sears Holdings Corp. one year ago will find interesting.
It outlines how states' fighting over corporate jobs via tax breaks often leads to a lot of lost revenue for the winning state and limited loyalty from the companies.
The story includes a quote from our own former Gov. Jim Edgar, who lays out clearly why states feel like they have to give away taxes to big companies - because everyone else is doing it.
By 1993, governors were regaling one another at a national conference with stories of deals beyond the auto industry, including a recent bidding war for United Airlines that drew more than 90 cities. The airline had set up negotiations in a hotel, and its representatives ran floor to floor comparing bids, said Jim Edgar, then the governor of Illinois.
Mr. Edgar said he had called for a truce, concerned that the practice was unfair to companies that did not receive incentives. But many states would not sign on, he said, particularly those in the South, where businesses were moving.
“If you’ve got some states doing it, it’s hard for the others not to do it,” Mr. Edgar said. “It’s like unilaterally disarming.”
Also on the Sears front, the potential looming strike in Carpentersville Unit District 300 reminds us that just one year ago, teachers, administrators, board members, parents and students were unified against what they perceived to be a common evil: State lawmakers and property tax breaks Sears had enjoyed for 20 years.
The district signed on in the end.
Now, the union can strike as early as Tuesday, and talks aren't going so well. From Melissa Silverberg:
“We put what the board is calling their final proposal in front of our members and they gave us a resounding no on accepting it,” said Mike Williamson, LEAD spokesman on Sunday night. “We’re going to to tell them that they have to do better than this.”
How quickly things can change.