A bill that would add transparency to the state's main economic development program was approved by the General Assembly on Friday.
The program, known as Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or EDGE, offers tax breaks to companies that create or retain jobs and make an investments in the state. The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which administers the program, releases annually the name of companies receiving the credits, but details of the agreements, such as the dollar value of the incentives, are often kept secret.
If the bill is signed by Gov.
, the department of commerce would post on its web site the terms of each agreement after it is reached.
"This is an incremental start. It's not where I wanted it to be but it's a start," said Rep.
, D-Marengo, the chief sponsor of the bill.
When Franks first introduced the bill in December, it called for the creation a five-member committee to review proposed tax incentives contracts with companies before they are finalized. Franks said he couldn't get support for the committee.
As an example, the state has yet to announce details of an incentives package for
The company has promised to create 2,000 jobs by 2015 at its Chicago assembly plant and its stamping plant in Chicago Heights. It would mark the second time the automaker has received a tax incentive package since 2007. Ford has yet to claim any of the earlier credits.
Franks said his bill is a response to a series of Tribune stories last year on the program. The newspaper reported that since taking office Gov. Pat Quinn shifted the program's focus from job creation to retention. Through October, Quinn has pledged more than $600 million in EDGE tax credits to create 7,146 jobs and retain 26,613 workers. Those credits are often bundled with training funds, grants and loans, which add $36.5 million to the cost of the incentives. In return for the incentives, the companies have pledged to invest at least $3.7 billion in the state.
Despite requests by the Tribune, the value of incentives issued since October has not been released by the commerce department.