Media Coverage

Many States Are Cutting Back on Benefits Promised to Public Employees, Sparking a Political Debate

In the state of Illinois’ current economic climate, it is important to help businesses create and retain jobs needed to revitalize our economy. But there must be assurances the state is making responsible investments. We must critically examine economic development tools currently being used to ensure state dollars are being used efficiently and that taxpayers are getting the best return on every incentive.

Enterprise zones are one incentive overdue for scrutiny. In 1982, the legislature created an economic development program allowing for the establishment of 20-year enterprise zones, later extended to 30 years, throughout Illinois. These zones offer a number of tax benefits to businesses, including sales tax exemptions for building materials, a utility tax exemption, various tax deductions and local tax incentives.


As this op-ed was being written, the respected Pew Center on the States issued a new national study concluding that most states, including Illinois, do not have a thorough incentive evaluation process. The report, “Evidence Counts, Evaluating State Tax Incentives for Jobs and Growth,” is a good read for anyone interested and involved in this debate. One conclusion by report author Jeff Chapman is that “policy makers should know whether these tools deliver a strong return on their investment. Regular, rigorous and comprehensive evaluations of tax incentives are critical to their ability to do so.”

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States' Fiscal Health

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