"(The department) cannot promote a break and also be in charge of negotiating a good deal for the state," he said.
Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operating officer of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, opposes Franks' bill in its current form because, he said, it would hurt the program and make Illinois less competitive with other states.
"If a company is deciding between Indiana and Illinois, and in Indiana it can claim (incentives) for 10 years and in Wisconsin for 12 years and in Illinois for five years, Wisconsin and Indiana are more attractive to an employer," Denzler said.
The current system, Denzler said, evaluates projects individually. He underscored that if a company does not meet the minimum requirements stipulated in its contract, it doesn't qualify for incentives for that year.
Still, critics of incentives say programs like EDGE don't have enough safeguards to make sure companies produce high-quality jobs in exchange for incentive packages.
Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, said that every penny counts when the state is projected to end the fiscal year with a deficit of at least $8.14 billion. That deficit, he added, affects funding for education, health care, human services and public safety.
"What we don't have in place are metrics to evaluate whether there is sufficient public benefit over time (with tax breaks) or if it's better to collect the money and spend it on those four services," Martire said.
Some companies further increased the value of their 2011 breaks by creating additional jobs, increasing wages or both. Among them is Reynolds Foil Inc., a unit of Reynolds Consumer Products, which makes aluminum foil, cups and plastic wrap. In 2011, the company added about six dozen jobs to its new North American headquarters in Lincolnshire for a total of about 100 jobs. The new jobs, paired with the tax hike, increased its incentives threefold from the previous year, to nearly $400,000.
Other companies did not get the full benefit of the tax hike because wages were lower than in previous years. Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.'s 2011 incentives rose by 46 percent, to $2.8 million, mainly because bonuses paid to its North America associates were lower than usual "due to challenging business results," the company said in a statement. Wrigley has invested nearly $73 million in the state on its projects tied to incentives.
While most companies receive credits for a decade, a handful, such as tire-maker Continental Tire, truck- and engine-maker Navistar International Corp., and aircraft and aerospace company Boeing have negotiated deals for 15 years. In 2010, Boeing negotiated a second 15-year deal worth more than $2.2 million to create 70 jobs in Mascoutah. As of 2011, it had not yet applied for any certificates for that deal.
Chrysler Group LLC negotiated a 20-year deal that does not require it to create one job, though it stands to reap even more tax credits if it does. To claim the credit, Chrysler needs to retain 1,950 workers in Belvidere, where it makes the Dodge Dart. The company's 2011 tax credit certificate was worth $6.1 million. It included a boost for creating 142 jobs, according to the state.
Kevin Frazier, a Chrysler spokesman, said the company has invested almost $700 million to build a 638,000-square-foot body shop and installed new machinery, tooling and material-handling equipment for the production of the Dodge Dart and has added a third-shift crew with more than 1,800 new jobs.
If a company qualifies for a tax credit certificate but it doesn't have any taxes to offset, it can carry over the unused credits to the next year for as many as five years. About two-thirds of companies pay no such taxes, according to a report by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.
In recent years, lawmakers have amended the program for auto manufacturers, Navistar and Motorola Mobility, among others, giving them the option to keep their employees' income taxes, rather than send them to the state.
In an effort to add transparency to behind-closed-door deals, Quinn signed into law last year a bill that requires the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to post on its website the terms of each EDGE deal. The measure did not set a timetable for when information has to be published.
For example, Quinn announced in 2011 that Ford would receive tax incentives for creating 1,200 jobs at its Chicago assembly plant. For nearly a year, the state said that the details of that agreement were not finalized and therefore it was not included in data supplied to the Tribune. On Thursday, the state told the Tribune that Ford had decided not to pursue the credits.
It would have been the automaker's second tax incentive package since 2007. Ford has been awarded certificates worth $8.1 million for that package, which required that the company invest at least $211 million in Illinois and retain 2,650 workers at its Chicago plant and its stamping plant in Chicago Heights.