Dupage Policy Journal

Dupage Policy Journal

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Oberweis rejects blatant special-interest bill


By Angela Underwood | Jun 6, 2018

Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove)

Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) hates the idea of special-interest legislation.

Adamantly rejecting Amendment 2 of HB 4507, backed by Sen. William Haine (D-Alton), which would extend the Madison Gateway Tax Increment Allocation Financing (TIF) District from 23 to 35 years, Oberweis could not share enough how much he loathes special-interest legisation.

“There is no opposition, all the taxing districts signed on,” Haine said when presenting the amendment during the May 29 Senate floor debate.

He was wrong, Oberweis hated the idea.

“Twenty-three years is not enough as a TIF…" Oberweis said." We are going to extend it another 12 years.” 

That is correct, Haine answered.

“If you can’t get the job done in 23 years, the heck with it, and I hope everybody will vote against this,” Oberweis said, adding that the notion that a TIF does not cost anything is bogus and that extending one is fundamentally wrong.

Oberweis attempted to speak on Amendment 1, which is sponsored by Sen. David Koehler (D-Peoria) and would amend the criteria that a business must receive retail materials and a manufacturer's exemption, but he was told he must wait for third reading. However co-sponsor Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry) did speak.

“Sen. Koehler, we had a very active and avid conversation on this piece of legislation, which I fully support and would encourage everyone in this chamber to support,” Althoff said before asking Koehler to explain the drafting errors in two related public acts.    

According to Koehler, the bill provided for a lower threshold for job retention and creation for an Illinois steel manufacturer so they could continue to receive the utility tax and manufacturing machinery equipment exemptions put in place during the economic recession.

Though Althoff seemingly had Koehler explain the amendment so that Oberweis could better understand, it didn’t matter. 

“Senator, would you say this is a pretty clear and extreme example of special-interest legislation?” Oberweis asked Koehler, who had no problem answering truthfully.

“Probably… [T]his is a steel mill that is well 100 years old,” Koehler said, adding that the mill has become a real success story over the years in Peoria. “What this does is just help them a little bit?”

That’s the problem, according to Oberweis, who said that he hoped the Senate was paying attention. 

“The sponsor just admitted [that] this is special-interest legislation," Oberweis said. "He just admitted [that] the company is very successful [and] doing very well, and yet he says we want to go back and give them some goodies from eight years ago.”

On tight budget conditions, lawmakers have no right to be giving the mill a break, according to Oberweis. 

“Secondly, this is combining a TIF extension, which to me has no rational reason to be combined,” he said.

Oberweis was the only no vote on HB 4507. 

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Illinois State Senate Illinois State Senator Jim Oberweis

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