Tuesday, November 29, 2011

EXTRA: How typically Springfield

There are times when I think the greatest political genius we have in Illinois is the Chicago White Sox.
CULLERTON: Will they REALLY wait?

By that, I mean their threats to leave the South Side for St. Petersburg, Fla., were serious enough that the General Assembly was forced to consider their late 1980s demand for a new stadium right then-and-there – resulting in the 1991 opening of the building we now call U.S. Cellular Field.

LEAVE IT TO the Illinois Legislature to get around to you, and you will wait a very long, long time for any results to come about.

That was on evidence Tuesday at the Statehouse in Springfield, where large numbers of political people were eager to cast votes indicating they supported the idea of giving significant tax breaks to Sears Holding Co., along with the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Yet the Illinois House and state Senate persisted in passing their own versions of such tax breaks (the Senate version included more tax relief for lower-income individuals, in addition to the corporate tax reductions, which is why Gov. Pat Quinn prefers it).

When asked about this conflict that could prevent any bill from being approved in the immediate future, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said that the General Assembly could easily spend the months of spring 2012 resolving the political differences between the two bills.

CONSIDERING THAT THIS corporate tax relief measure WAS the reason the General Assembly felt compelled to extend the length of the fall veto session (which should have ended two weeks ago), the idea that they can now just take their time on the issue sounds a bit absurd.

They came back for an extra day at the Statehouse (trust me; life in Springfield, Ill., during the Christmas holiday season isn’t that exciting) to do nothing.

I can’t envision their per diem fee ($132 per day for housing and meals) is worth the time and effort to make the trip to the capital city.

Cullerton also said he thinks the corporate entities that want these tax breaks should be willing to wait because their basic legal language is getting approved by the different legislative chambers.

YET I CAN’T help but be skeptical – even though a part of me thinks it might be good if these particular tax breaks don’t go through and become state law.

Perhaps those corporate entities will be impatient. Or fearful that they’re going to become one of the “perpetual” issues that comes up before the General Assembly. How many decades have we pondered the idea of a new Chicago-area airport? Or expanded casino opportunities?

Even in cases where the General Assembly eventually acts, how many more years after the White Sox deal did it take for the Chicago Bears to get a political agreement for the renovation of their stadium?

For the record, it was 14 years. That was their “reward” for being patient and waiting, instead of playing political hardball like the White Sox.


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