Illinois House leaders reach deal to keep CME, Sears

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 08, 2011 6:08 PM
Illinois House leaders reach deal to keep CME, Sears

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Illinois House leaders have agreed to pass tax breaks to keep the CME Group and Sears Holdings from leaving the state, the minority leader said on Thursday.

"We have come to an agreement on a jobs package that will give some relief to a broad base of businesses in our state," said House Minority Leader Tom Cross, a Republican.

The agreement appears to pave the way for relief for the companies, which had threatened to leave the state over heavy tax burdens.

The Illinois House last month voted against a plan that would have given $100 million in tax relief to CME and Sears. The state Senate had previously voted in favor of the package.

The packages offered to CME and Sears are "pretty much the same" as they were in November, said Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, the Democratic majority leader.

The measure would change the way CME, which operates the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade, can source their revenue. It would allow the exchange to source only a percentage to Illinois, instead of nearly 100 percent under current guidelines.

CME declined to comment.

Sears said it was encouraged lawmakers were "returning to Springfield to consider a package that will help us remain an Illinois company."

The agreement is bad news for other states that have been wooing the Illinois companies. Ohio made a pitch for Sears, while CME officials recently met with the mayor of Indianapolis about potentially relocating to the city.

The agreement also will "lessen the tax burden on our family farmers and small businesses," Cross said.

The Illinois House is expected to vote on Monday and the Senate on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek; additional reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; editing by Gunna Dickson)