Saturday, October 5, 2013

Did Pat Quinn just give St. Louis a jolt in their desires to attract ADM?

Perhaps Pat Quinn thinks his gubernatorial re-election bid will benefit with solid voter turnout from Madison and St. Clair counties – the parts of Illinois that also are part of the St. Louis metropolitan area.

QUINN: A dangerous political mix
That’s about the only line of logic I can think of that would make me comprehend why the governor would create a link between the issue of trying to keep Archer Daniels Midland Co. in Illinois AND trying to fix the funding flaws in pension programs overseen by state government.

FOR THE RECORD, ADM officials have said they want to move their world headquarters from Decatur to a large Midwestern city. They have hinted Chicago is their preference, but St. Louis and Minneapolis also have been mentioned in the mix.

To the goal of ensuring that Chicago comes out on top, the Illinois General Assembly is contemplating whether they should approve something resembling tax breaks for ADM IF they stay in an Illinois city. Such tax credits could come up for consideration during the veto session that begins later this month.

But Quinn is telling the Associated Press that he’ll use his veto power to kill off any such tax breaks – UNLESS the state Legislature also manages to approve an adequate plan for fixing pension funding mechanisms.

Whether or not pension funding will be addressed is questionable – some legislators are confident it can be addressed during the same veto session, while others say the sides are too far apart and that nothing will happen until next year AT THE SOONEST!!!

HOW WOULD IT play if Quinn wound up killing off a bid to keep one of rural Illinois’ major companies within the state, while also giving Chicago’s corporate presence another major player?

CULLERTON: A political balance?
Would it seem like Quinn is playing politics in ways that would encourage ADM to give one of those other cities more serious consideration?

The presence of O’Hare International Airport may be a major advantage, but if it meant avoiding the political games, I suspect ADM officials would learn to live with Lambert Airport in St. Louis.

Which might somehow mean that a few of those ADM executives who leave Decatur for the new world headquarters would wind up living in the St. Louis Metro East area. Or maybe not. Maybe they’ll all decide to live on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River? Or maybe Quinn fantasizes that they'll use high-speed rail to commute from Chicago TO St. Louis?

I COULD EASILY see this issue being spun into a negative that Quinn was willing to let a rural-based company leave the state, AND into a negative by Chicago interests that he thwarted local efforts to try to attract that company.

Could political gamesmanship make Lambert look better?
The last time I checked, Madison and St. Clair counties had solid Democratic Party organizations, but not strong enough to overcome opposition everywhere else in Illinois.

Which is why state Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, is trying to make an appeal to both regions; what with his talk that the estimated $20 million worth of tax breaks being sought by ADM to move to Chicago should be balanced off with something to compensate Decatur for any jobs it loses due to the move.

I’m not sure I see what Quinn gains by linking the two issues – particularly since the General Assembly has made it clear on so many occasions that they’re not willing to do the political heavy-lifting required to resolve the pension problems.

HOW MANY “DEADLINES,” how many drop-dead dates, have come and gone with nothing being done on the issue? There’s plenty of blame to go around the General Assembly on this issue.

Quinn’s latest tactic comes across as the governor himself trying to grab a share of the blame, rather than letting the Legislature take the hits!

Which further convinces me that if Quinn prevails in next year’s election cycle, it’s going to be more due to the incompetence of his potential opponents than it will be anything positive the governor does himself.


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