“Wait just A Darn Minute!” The return to Springfield in December for Pensions?
The other evening, Todd Mertz asked if there were any news regarding what happened during the last veto session in Springfield with Archer Daniels Midland’s latest corporate threat for tax subsidies or their leaving the offices in Decatur for a more understanding and favorable fiscal bed in another state. It was a great question.
The answer is the same as the answer for “pension reform.” “No,” the legislators departed Springfield quickly after adjourning the final day of the veto session, and they planned to return possibly in December to finish those tasks left undone.
Interestingly, no more dramatic pair of intertwined legislative prospects characterize so perfectly the twisted climate of corporate welfare and its power and pressures upon middle class workers. ADM tax subsidies and possible Pension Reform.
This is the new topography of politics and corporate business on the state and federal level. This is the “new reality” for all of us: white collar extortion in the various capitol buildings of states from here to both coasts. It’s the great extraction in state after state. The major corporations are demanding payments and subsidies in order to consider bringing employment to an area, district, or state. To make these increasing and exorbitant demands, legislatures are seeking whatever funds can be scraped, borrowed, or pillaged from the middle class to keep their business relations stable. Illinois, already maintaining a corporate-friendly flat tax rate, is a leader in this specialty. Quinn caves to business regularly, after hand-wringing, but those running against him won't even pretend to argue.
You’ll remember, as did Todd, that ADM spokespeople were seeking more than $20 million in tax subsidies to remain in Decatur. Without that subsidy, they warned, they might just have to move the offices of 100 people in Decatur to another location, possibly another state. Politicians in all states are still stuck between the needs of middle class public sector workers, especially those promised pensions and the disastrous lack of tax revenues after the Great Recession in 2008-09. And other states, make no mistake about it, are willing to deal if your state won’t. Someone like Rick Perry (Texas) is waiting for any opportunity to bring his state, a place where less than 25% have any medical health care, a job, any job.
And where does the middle class stand in these “deals?”
|Senator Andy Manar|
Ask Senator Andy Manar of the 48th Illinois District. He for one is hopeful that something can be done by December 5th to provide those subsidies for ADM, even as the bottom may drop out for hundreds if not thousands of pensioners in his and other legislators’ districts. His proposed legislation would grant the subsidies to ADM but extract a promise to provide more jobs at the plant in Decatur. You’ve got to admit, that’s total trust or at least a kind of blind hope that the numbers may overpower the crippling losses in a pension bill – for the Senator’s district. And, of course, ADM has a proven track record of crossing fingers when it comes to deals?
Nevertheless, without the funding or revenues, Senators like Andy Manar (who is on record believing that some kind of consensus legislation is necessary in order to treat public workers fairly and avoid tests of constitutionality) may return to the General Assembly facing a kind of ethical schizophrenia. It becomes a question of damage control, doesn’t it?
Who can hurt me most? The big player with hundreds of thousands of dollars to eliminate my political aspirations or the hundreds of thousands of little people whose single dollars and memories might also affect my future?
And the corporations are lined up outside the divinely-inspired “pension reform” Governor’s office waiting to try their turn for breaks, tax subsidies, and increased loopholes. It matters not that their companies are awash in money and profits. For example, ADM earned more than $90 billion in sales just last year. Their demand for $24 million is exactly a payment of 2 millionths of their annual earnings. It’s the principle of the thing. Corporations must act like corporations, and if corporations are people, my friend, they’re not the kind of person you want hanging around your family or children. They’re shallow, easily angered, petulant, and very vindictive. Just ask Senator Manar.
So, what’ll it be in December in the General Assembly? Will the General Assembly supply ADM with the payment in order to play along, like they have with Caterpillar, Boeing, and so, so many others? Or will they say no?
Or will they look at the hundreds of thousands of single dollars to be taken from those who worked under promises of pensions, planned for futures after retirements, found or find themselves in unexpected medical needs and costs, see that a starting salary today in teaching is nearly 5 and ½ where they started…and take away their futures, break their oaths to the Illinois Constitution, and hand it over to the corporates?
Now there’s a bet for you.
Call your Representative or Senator now.