Illinois House GOP leader says Democrats not interested in cutting business tax

Clout Street

Illinois House Republican leader Tom Cross said Wednesday that he’d try to cut back the state’s recent corporate income tax hike, but Democrats aren’t interested.

But Democratic Senate President John Cullerton has expressed an interest in looking into reducing the corporate rate, which jumped from 4.8 percent to 7 percent, in light of threats from several high profile businesses to leave the state.

Cross’ comments came at a speech to the City Club of Chicago, where he cited five areas to help the state’s business community that could gain backing from Democrats during the upcoming fall legislative session.

They included lowering the fee for incorporating a new business from $750 to $100, extending existing enterprise zones, making permanent the research and development tax credit, raising the ceiling on estate tax liability and allowing firms to carry losses into later tax years.

But Cross did not mention his proposed repeal of January’s corporate income tax increase, which was largely pushed through by Democrats.

“We’d go further if we were in charge,” Cross later told reporters of Republicans, who are out of power in the House and Senate. Asked if Democrats had shown any willingness to discuss repealing or cutting the corporate tax, Cross said: “None at all. None at all.”

But Cullerton has spoken on several occasions of lowering the corporate income tax rate in exchange for eliminating tax loopholes in a revenue-neutral fashion, said John Patterson, a Cullerton spokesman.

In 2009, Patterson noted, Senate Democrats approved a measure hiking the state’s income-tax rates for individuals and businesses, but only boosted the corporate rate from 4.8 percent to 5 percent in exchange for broadening the state’s sales tax to include services.

Cross said reducing spending and looking for efficiencies should be discussed instead of any concept such as broadening the sales tax, even if it could be used to reduce the corporate income-tax rate.

Cross and Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, also discussed introducing legislation that would reorganize several city pension boards in the wake of disclosures by the Tribune and WGN-TV about union leaders receiving public pensions — and union pensions — based on their union salary. The measure also would require pension fund members to report suspected abuses to law enforcement agencies.

Cross said powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has pledged a hearing on the legislation.

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