Economic-development bill passes both houses
SPRINGFIELD -- A massive economic development bill, which includes state tax incentives to help build a $1.4 billion fertilizer plant west of Tuscola, passed the Senate Friday and was sent to Gov. Pat Quinn for his approval.
Area senators split on the measure, with Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign; Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet; and Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, voting yes. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon; and Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, voted no.
The measure, SB 20, had been approved in the House on Thursday.
In addition to the Tuscola fertilizer plant, which has been proposed by a group known as Cronus LLC, there are various supports for expansions at McCormick Place and Navy Pier in Chicago, for the south suburban airport project near Peotone, for development of a "brownfields" area in south Chicago, for a tax increment finance district in East St. Louis and for a convention center in Rosemont.
The measure also includes a provision, requested by the Illinois Farm Bureau, that changes some farmland assessment procedures.
Democrats promoted the bill as a jobs bill.
"This is an economic development bill. It's all about jobs," said Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights. "Today we have a chance to move the ball forward, to create economic opportunity."
But Republicans criticized the bill because it was developed in private and unveiled in the House on Thursday, the day before the Legislature was scheduled to adjourn.
"Each one of these projects is so large, so big that it deserves its own bill and its own debate," said Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry. "This is a very bad precedent."
"There are a number of good projects in here, there are some things that make some sense but the way this is all coming together make it look like an insider deal," said Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine.
In a Senate committee Friday morning, nearly all of the discussion focused on the development in Chicago. The McCormick Place project, supporters said, might include two hotels and an arena/theatre that would partially be funded by DePaul University.