SPRINGFIELD — A vote to offer Decatur-based Archer Daniels Midland millions of dollars in tax breaks in order to keep the company's global headquarters in Illinois could come as early as next week.
In action Thursday, Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, lifted his objection to offering incentives to the grain processing giant and introduced legislation he said will create hundreds of new jobs across the state.
"I've been in office less than a year, but it is abundantly clear that Illinois faces major challenges," Manar said. "Illinois' unemployment rate is 9.2 percent — two points higher than the national average. Decatur's unemployment rate is even higher, which is why we have to begin addressing chronic unemployment that has plagued certain areas of the state by investing our resources where it will have the greatest impact."
The proposal is the second piece of legislation to surface in the General Assembly after ADM announced in September its plan to move top executives out of Decatur.
ADM, which has been headquartered in central Illinois for more than 40 years, wants to put its top brass in a bigger city with easier access to international airports. The company plans to continue employing as many as 4,400 workers at its Decatur facilities.
Chicago is a top contender for the new offices, although St. Louis, Minneapolis, Atlanta and other large cities also are courting the company.
Manar balked at the initial proposal filed in the House, saying it didn't contain safeguards that would protect Decatur from losing more jobs.
Under his plan, ADM will move 100 jobs from other states to Decatur and, over the next five years, is committed to adding or filling 100 full-time positions annually in Decatur, he said in a statement.
ADM said it was "grateful" for Manar's support.
"We appreciate the constructive dialogue he's led with ADM and local leaders around our shared desire to see Decatur grow and prosper. The outcome envisioned in the legislation, if realized, would be a win for Illinois, for Decatur and for ADM," chief communications officer Victoria Podesta said.
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Manar also wants to create a task force to boost the promotion of the company's new Midwest Inland Port intermodal facility.
The proposal, however, faces roadblocks. Gov. Pat Quinn previously said lawmakers must first fix the state's pension mess before moving on to other issues, including ADM. And during preliminary debate on incentives in the House, top Democrats in the chamber raised red flags about giving taxpayer money to a successful company at a time when the state has a massive backlog of unpaid bills.
In addition, a coalition of labor unions earlier said the General Assembly should ignore big corporations lining up for "special deals" and instead invest in "core public services."
"It is particularly outrageous that some of the same CEOs who seek taxpayer handouts are also leading the charge to strip teachers, police, and other public employees and retirees of the modest pensions they paid for and earned," noted a statement by the We Are One coalition.
Lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday for the final three days of the fall veto session.
The legislation is House Bill 2536.