Question: What is your position on tax abatements or inducements used as incentives to attract commercial/industrial development?

Let me begin by saying that local units of government should have the opportunity to attract and encourage businesses as they deem appropriate. While serving on the DeKalb County Board I supported the use of tax incentives to encourage businesses to expand or come to the community. The abatement was available to all businesses, not just new comers.

One of the core objectives in using incentives is to encourage desired activity (business attraction and expansion) that results in jobs and a more vibrant economy. Everyone wins with job growth, new facilities and economic activity. In fact, most communities suffer from too few businesses and industries which places a larger tax burden for supporting local government services upon the homeowner. If we hope to change that relationship, local units of government must try new ideas to attract desired businesses to their communities and help current businesses expand.

Tax abatements and incentives for a limited period of time (such as 3 to 5 years) do not increase taxes for current property owners and offer additional economic activity and tax revenue for the community right away. In the past, some school districts (which levy 60 to 70 percent of local property taxes) have hesitated to offer tax incentives. Even though they would receive increased tax revenue from business expansion or new construction in year one, some wanted 100 percent. I have encouraged them to look at the long-term and best interests of the total community.

Tax incentives and abatements are intended to encourage activity that would otherwise not occur. It is one option in the tool chest for business and industrial development in a community that local governments should consider. Such incentives should be available to all current businesses and industries in a community thus giving them an equal opportunity and not supporting unfair competition for new comers. Local units of government should have the option to select the type of businesses they want to attract to the community. They should have the choice of not extending an incentive to every new company.

As State Representative, I have confidence in local leaders who are elected by citizens. I support giving local units of government more authority to conduct their business as they feel appropriate. State government should stop trying to micro-manage every unit of local government but should expect them to be accountable to the people. State government should look at its regulations and taxes that actually discourage business and industry from locating or staying in Illinois. I am working to change the anti-business climate in Illinois, roll back or sunset the fees imposed last year, and cut the bureaucratic rules that add to the cost of doing business.

Bob Pritchard for 70th District Illinois State House