(Springfield, IL) — March 30, 2011. Illinois recent jump in income tax across the board is getting a lot of attention after the leader of Caterpillar Corp. says other states are wooing him to relocate.
But business and legislative leaders in the Illinois Capitol say the state’s business climate is a lot more than tax rates.
The top Democrat and Republican in the Illinois Senate spokes to local chambers of commerce from across central Illinois Tuesday, saying they doubt Caterpillar is leaving the state. But they admit there is a lot of work to be done on the state’s overall business climate.
Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) said he had lunch with Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar’s chief executive officer, and the conversation did not tilt to the recent personal and corporate tax increases.
Oberhelman “said he wanted stability. He said give us a four-year plan that we can work with,” said Cullerton.
The Senate president said he also spoke with other Caterpillar leaders about changing Illinois’ workers’ compensation costs; about addressing the state’s plan to pay billions in past due bills; and about the need for investments in roads, schools and bridges.
The Senate’s GOP boss, Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said the business climate in Illinois is a lot more than just taxes and workers’ compensation insurance. She said companies look at the total cost, in time and dollars, and find Illinois a bit behind.
“I don’t think (Caterpillar) is threatening. … I think the company is saying they want to work with the state,” Radogno said.
Doug Whitley, president and chief executive officer of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, said Radogno and Cullerton are serious about working to improve the state’s business climate, which Whitley said is refreshing.
“We suffered through a disastrous decade (under Gov. Rod Blagojevich). Now there is a new tone in Springfield,” he said.
But Whitley said lawmakers in Springfield have a little more than two months to find agreement on a host of business climate issues ranging from workers’ compensation insurance, to environmental regulations, to permitting times, to schools, and even to the balancing the state budget.
Benjamin Yount, Illinois Statehouse News
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