Tag Archives: corporations

Walker gave over $1 billion to the rich, but has no evidence it created jobs

In recent testimony before the Legislature, the Secretary of the Department of Revenue for the Walker administration claimed that a runaway manufacturing and agricultural tax giveaway to the wealthy and corporations enacted in the 2011 state budget is helping create jobs. But in response to an open records request by One Wisconsin Now seeking documentation to back up Rick Chandler’s job creation claim the agency replied: “We do not have any such records.”

In 2011, Gov. Scott Walker and his GOP cohorts concocted a late-night scheme to give away more of our money to their wealthy friends under the guise of creating jobs. Walker never required proving jobs were created to get the money, and now we find that his own administration can’t provide a shred of evidence of any actual jobs actually being created.

As reported by the Associated Press on March 29, “Gov. Scott Walker’s Revenue Department secretary is defending a manufacturing tax credit that’s cost far more than originally expected. Revenue Department Secretary Rick Chandler told lawmakers on the Joint Finance Committee on April 20 that the manufacturing and ag tax credit has helped led (sic) to an increase of 31,000 manufacturing jobs in the state since 2011. The tax credit was passed in 2011 but took effect in 2013. It’s projected to cost $1.4 billion by mid-2019. It’s costing more than twice as much as originally estimated now that it’s fully implemented. (Editor’s Note: Even if the money had created 31,000 jobs, that would mean each job cost more than $45,000.)

Seeking confirmation of Chandler’s allegation, One Wisconsin Now submitted a request under the state open records law for “copies of all documents which show jobs created specifically and as a direct result of the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit, since its adoption in the 2011 budget.”

In response, the DOR replied, “We received your open records request for copies of all documents which show jobs created specifically and as a direct result of the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit, since its adoption in the 2011 budget. We do not have any such records.”

According to an analysis of the tax loophole by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 11 of the wealthiest people in Wisconsin will reap a windfall of $21 million in 2017, with no requirement that jobs be created. And, in 2017, claimants making over $1 million will be showered with tax breaks of over $161 million.

Walker and the legislative Republicans have cut public education, technical colleges and our university by record amounts. They’ve kicked tens of thousands of people off their health care. They’ve allowed our roads to crumble. It is an outrage they can’t back up their job claims with any proof

Scot Ross is executive director of One Wisconsin Now.

 

Balloting boosts campaign to reclaim democracy from corporate interests

Voters in eight Wisconsin communities cast ballots April 4 for a constitutional amendment to reclaim democracy from moneyed interests and overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

The non-binding referendums asked voters whether the U.S. Constitution should be amended to establish that:

n Rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings and not to government-created entities such as corporations or limited liability companies.

n Political campaign spending is not a form of free speech protected under the First Amendment.

Early returns showed voters approved referendums in Racine, Monona, Fox Crossing, Crystal Lake, the town and village of Blue Mounds, Jordan and Caledonia.

More than 100 communities in Wisconsin have approved referendums or resolutions, according to Wisconsin United to Amend.

“We cannot solve any of the pressing issues in front of our country as long as our politicians do not represent us and they won’t until we get the big money out of politics,” said Racine activist Bill Earley.

“The vast majority of voters know their voices aren’t being heard by their representatives. Politicians take their orders from the moneyed interests that keep them in office,” said Karen Ingvoldstat, an activist in Marquette County.

Madison first out of the gate

The first such ballot question in Wisconsin was approved in Madison in 2011, a year after the Supreme Court issued its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

In that 5-4 decision, the court said the First Amendment prohibited restrictions on political expenditures by corporations.

The ruling, as Barack Obama said a week later in a State of the Union address, “reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections.”

Nationwide, 18 state legislatures and 730 communities have called for passage of a constitutional amendment.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, DFL-Minnesota, has introduced the We the People Amendment in Congress.

“It’s time to establish once and for all that corporations are not people, money is not free speech and our elections and public policymaking process are not for sale to the highest corporate bidders,” Nolan said.

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, is among the co-sponsors.

“The amendment essentially has two provisions,” Pocan said. “It says that money is not free speech and that corporations are not people. A simple but vital premise that would even out the playing field by reversing the deeply corrosive impact of corporate interests on our democracy.”

House bills to fund infrastructure reward big multinationals

U.S. Rep. John Delaney has introduced two infrastructure funding bills — H.R. 1669 and H.R. 1670 — that good government groups say would further incentivize corporate tax dodging, reward the biggest multinational corporations for stashing their profits in offshore tax havens and replace one system riddled with tax loopholes with another.

“Funding infrastructure is a worthy goal, but Rep. Delaney’s bills strike a bad deal for little return,” Michelle Surka, advocate with U.S. Public Interest Research Group, stated in a news release. “By offering up huge tax breaks for the biggest multinational corporations and rewarding tax gimmicks, these bills sell small businesses and future funding for infrastructure down the river.”

The Partnership to Build America Act (H.R. 1669would establish an infrastructure bank funded by profits repatriated from offshore tax havens.

This proposal, however, offers the worst tax avoiders a costly and unwarranted tax holiday, essentially rewarding and further incentivizing tax haven abuse, according to PIRG’s statement.

Under the proposal, multinational corporations would be allowed to bring back up to $6 at a zero percent tax rate for every $1 in bonds purchased, with the exact ratio to be determined by an auction.

The proposed bidding process would open the door to gaming and collusion. The bonds would further reward tax-dodging multinationals by paying them interest.

Contrary to proponents’ claims, the bonds would not offer a cost-free way to capitalize an infrastructure bank. The bill instead offers multinationals a tax cut worth up to $105 billion to capitalize a $50 billion bank.

The Infrastructure 2.0 Act (H.R. 1670) would allow multinational companies to repatriate their existing offshore profits at a tax rate of 8.75 percent — lower than even the 10 percent rate proposed by President Donald Trump.

PIRG says that would mean profitable U.S. corporations subject to the statutory tax rate of 35 percent would get a 75 percent reduction in the tax rate applicable to their foreign earnings — a massive tax break unavailable to any domestic U.S. company or individual U.S. taxpayer.

Further, the bill would set a deadline for Congress to act on corporate tax reform and, if that deadline is not met, a set of a new rules would be enacted that would modify and extend the worst tax loopholes, PIRG said.

“With over $2.5 trillion in corporate profits booked offshore, we could most certainly fund badly needed infrastructure with the taxes owed on money stashed in tax havens,” Surka stated. “But doing so should not further incentivize or reward tax gaming. Rep. Delaney’s bills do just that, and they take us in the wrong direction.”

 

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students that challenges special interests on issues.

National Parks Service lifts restrictions on naming rights, clears way for commercialism

After months of reviewing public comments, the National Park Service announced director Jonathan Jarvis signed and finalized “Director’s Order #21,” a policy allowing federal parks to seek donations from corporate vendors, allowing the parks service to partner with alcohol companies, dropping the policy that parks must be free of commercialism and lifting restrictions on naming rights in parks.

This is a statement from Kristen Strader, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert Program:

It is disgraceful that the parks service plans to sell our national parks to the highest bidder despite overwhelming public opposition to increased commercialism in our national parks. More than 215,000 petition signers and hundreds of commenters opposed this policy.

Now that this policy has been finalized, park visitors soon could be greeted with various forms of advertisements, like a sign reading “brought to you by McDonald’s” within a new visitor’s center at Yosemite, or “Budweiser” in script on a park bench at Acadia.

The NPS did make one right move by removing a provision from the policy that would have allowed corporate logos to be placed on exhibits and waysides.

In a society where we are constantly inundated with advertisements everywhere we go, national parks offered a unique and beautiful escape. Even in schools, students endure a constant barrage of billboards, social media advertising and marketing. Until now, national parks have remained relatively commercial-free, which is why they were such a valuable respite.

The finalization of Director’s Order #21 signals a dangerous shift toward opening our parks up to an unprecedented amount of commercial influence.

Study: 73 percent of Fortune 500 companies playing offshore shell game

More than 73 percent of Fortune 500 companies maintained subsidiaries in offshore tax havens in 2015, according to “Offshore Shell Games.”

The new study was released this week by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Collectively, multinationals reported booking $2.5 trillion offshore, with just 30 companies accounting for 66 percent of this total.

By indefinitely stashing profits in offshore tax havens, corporations are avoiding up to $717.8 billion in U.S. taxes.

“Corporate tax dodging may be legal, but it’s certainly not good for everyday taxpayers and responsible small businesses,” Michelle Surka, advocate with U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said in a news release. “It disadvantages small businesses that don’t have scores of tax lawyers, creates an economic environment that favors accounting tricks over innovation and real productivity, and forces the rest of us to foot the bill. We’re beginning to see a growing international interest in cracking down on corporate tax dodging, and with $717.8 billion on the line, it’s time for the United States to start doing the same.”

“Every year, corporations collectively report that they have tens of billion more in cash stashed offshore than they did the year before, “ added Matthew Gardner of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. “The hard fact is that the U.S. tax code incentivizes tax haven abuse by allowing companies to indefinitely defer taxes on offshore profits until they are ‘repatriated.’ The only way to end this kind of tax avoidance is by closing the loopholes in the tax code that enable it.”

Key findings of the report:

• 367 Fortune 500 companies collectively maintain 10,366 tax haven subsidiaries. The 30 companies with the most money booked offshore for tax purposes collectively operate 2,509 tax haven subsidiaries.
• 58 percent of companies with any tax haven subsidiaries registered at least one in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands, countries with no corporate tax. The profits that American multinationals collectively claim to earn in these island nations totals 1,884 percent and 1,313 percent, respectively of each country’s entire yearly economic output, an impossible feat.
• The 30 companies with the most money booked offshore for tax purposes collectively hold nearly $1.65 trillion overseas. That is 66 percent of the nearly $2.5 trillion that Fortune 500 companies together report holding offshore.
• Only 58 Fortune 500 companies disclose what they would expect to pay in U.S. taxes if these profits were not officially booked offshore.In total, these 58 companies would owe $212 billion in additional federal taxes, equal to the entire state budgets of California, Virginia and Indiana combined. The average tax rate the 58 companies currently pay to other countries on this income is a mere 6.2 percent, implying that most of it is booked to tax havens.

The study highlights the following companies:

Apple: Apple has booked $214.9 billion offshore — more than any other company. It would owe $65.4 billion in U.S. taxes if these profits were not officially held offshore for tax purposes. A recent ruling by the European Commission found that Apple used a tax haven structure in Ireland to pay a rate of just 0.005 percent on its European profits in 2014, and has required that the company pay $14.5 billion in back taxes to Ireland, where the company was paying significantly less than even the tax haven’s standard low tax rate. A U.S. Senate investigation in 2013 uncovered Apple’s two Irish subsidiaries that were tax residents of neither the United States, where they are managed and controlled, nor Ireland, where they are incorporated.
Nike: The sneaker giant officially holds $10.7 billion offshore for tax purposes on which it would owe $3.6 billion in U.S. taxes. This implies Nike pays a mere 1.4 percent tax rate to foreign governments on those offshore profits, indicating that nearly all of the money is officially held by subsidiaries in tax havens. The shoe company, which operates 931 retail stores throughout the world, does not operate one in Bermuda.
Goldman Sachs: Goldman Sachs reports having987 subsidiaries in offshore tax havens, 537 of which are in Bermuda despite not operating a single legitimate office in that country, according to its own website. The bank officially holds $28.6 billion offshore.
The report concludes that to end tax haven abuse, Congress should end incentives for companies to shift profits offshore, close the most egregious offshore loopholes, strengthen tax enforcement and increase transparency.

Pop or fizzle: Are soda taxes gaining steam?

A sip of soda will become more expensive next year in Philadelphia, which recently became the second city in the United States to pass a tax on sugary beverages — after Berkeley voters passed one in 2014.

The Philadelphia measure, approved by the City Council in June, could lend momentum to efforts by public health advocates to get similar taxes enacted elsewhere around the nation.

Voters in three Northern California cities — San Francisco, Oakland and Albany — will decide in November whether to approve such taxes. A soda tax initiative in San Francisco in 2014 failed to get the two-thirds vote needed to pass.

Several states also have tried and failed to pass soda taxes. In California, a bill to do so died this spring.

Outside of the United States, Mexico, England and France also tax sugar-laden beverages.

Advocates of taxing these drinks say that they contribute to high rates of obesity and diabetes, and that putting a bigger price tag on them can reduce consumption and improve people’s health. Critics argue the taxes are unpopular and that it is discriminatory to single out one item in the grocery cart.

The American Beverage Association, one of the staunchest opponents of soda taxes, has funded successful opposition campaigns throughout the United States, including in California.

The association has spent $64.6 million since 2009 fighting such initiatives — including more than $9 million just to defeat the proposed San Francisco tax in 2014, according to a report last year by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group. Coca-Cola and Pepsi have also been big contributors to the opposition.

Lauren Kane, a spokeswoman for the beverage trade group, said there is no evidence that soda taxes make anyone healthier. “Obesity has been rising … while soft drink consumption has been declining,” she said. “It would defy logic to say that soft drink consumption is driving obesity.”

Overall, soda sales dropped 1.2 percent in 2015, according to Beverage Digest, which tracks the industry, continuing a downward trend.

Kane added that taxing any grocery item is a “slippery slope” that makes other groceries vulnerable to taxation.

To hear more about the campaigns for soda taxes, we spoke with Harold Goldstein, executive director of California-based Public Health Advocates, who has played an active role in some of these efforts. A transcript of the conversation below has been edited for clarity and space.

Q: What are the health and medical effects of drinking too many sugar-sweetened beverages?

It is now proven that sugary beverages are a leading contributor to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. When we consume liquid sugar, the body converts much of that sugar to fat in the liver, causing fatty liver disease. We now have an epidemic in this country of fatty liver disease.

There are studies showing, for example, if you drink two sodas a day for just two weeks, that your unhealthy cholesterol, your LDL cholesterol, will go up 20 percent and that your triglycerides will go up 20 percent. If you drink that amount for six months, the amount of fat in your liver will go up 150 percent. This is a dramatic impact in a short period of time because our bodies are not designed to consume liquid sugar.

Q: How big is the problem of obesity and diabetes in the U.S.?

The obesity and diabetes epidemics are among the most fundamental public health problems facing our country today. They impact every demographic group. At the same time, they are a particular problem in low-income communities and communities of color, in large part because it’s in those communities where there is the least access to healthy food and the least access to opportunities to be physically active.

We know that diabetes rates are going to increase by 80 percent in the next five years, costing the state $15 billion more in direct health care costs. With that kind of money on the table … it is imperative that we invest in diabetes prevention. Whether it is through a soda tax, through the state legislature or state general funds, it is time to establish a major statewide diabetes prevention campaign in California.

Q: A recent report by your organization and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that more than half of Californians have either diabetes or prediabetes. Aside from sugar-sweetened beverages, what else is causing this?

We have created a world that is designed for diabetes. We have fast food outlets on every corner. We have staggering portion sizes of sugary beverages and restaurant meals and everything from bagels to burgers. We have gotten rid of [physical education] in schools. We allow unregulated advertising of unhealthy products to children.

Q: Why target sugary beverages and not other junk food?

A: If you eat a candy bar, it takes hours to digest it. The liquid sugar is just floating sugar molecules and we absorb that sugar in as little as 30 minutes. The research is continuing to show that sugar itself is a particular problem, and perhaps the biggest problem. We know that the body turns sugar into fat. [Soda] is the right place to start. It represents half of the sugar in the food supply, it is the largest source of sugar and our body treats it differently.

Q: In Philadelphia, the mayor argued for the new tax based on the revenue it would bring in, rather than the health risks of soda. Do you think that helped get it approved?

I think different communities are going to support soda taxes for different reasons, in large part based on what the funds are going to be used for. In Berkeley, the revenues go into the general fund. City council members wanted that money to be dedicated to obesity and diabetes prevention efforts, as they have done. That was something clearly important to voters in Berkeley. In Philadelphia, the funds are dedicated to a variety of things, especially pre-K [education] in low-income communities and parks and rec programs. It is important that through this democratic process, residents get to decide how they want to use the revenues raised by such a tax.

Q: The effort to pass a soda tax in California died in committee this spring. Can you explain what the bill would have done and what happened to it?

The bill would have established a 2 penny-per-ounce fee on sugary beverages. As a fee, it would have required that all the revenues raised be dedicated to mitigating harm caused by those products. As has happened now five times in the state legislature, the beverage industry put their corporate might behind their lobbying efforts and successfully killed the bill.

Q: How difficult is it to overcome opposition by the soda industry?

What we are learning is that it’s far easier to enact soda taxes at the local level than at the state level in California. The beverage industry has enormous power in the state Legislature. And getting it passed in California requires a two-thirds vote in the legislature, which is a big hurdle. Other states don’t have that hurdle. There are a number of states that are currently working on it in one way or another.

Q: Critics say that soda taxes won’t reduce obesity rates and give government too much control over consumer choice. What do you think about the argument that this might not be the best way to address diabetes and obesity?

Soda taxes are one way to address the diabetes and obesity epidemic. What has been shown in Berkeley and Mexico, where the tax has now been in effect for quite some time, is that those taxes reduce consumption of sugary beverages, which we know are a leading contributor to the epidemic.

At the same time, those taxes provide funds to pay for much needed programs in communities. Soda taxes aren’t the end-all and be-all of obesity and diabetes prevention. There is a lot more that can and needs to be done to address the epidemic.

Q: As public health advocates like yourself work to reduce access to these beverages, what sort of alternatives are you promoting?

The biggest solution is to encourage and support people to drink water instead of sugar. It is the simplest, easiest change that any of us can make to reduce our chance of getting diabetes. Sixteen teaspoons of sugar in every 20-ounce beverage is way more than our body can handle and still be healthy.

Q: Will there be another try to get a statewide tax in California?

I am sure there will be, with Philadelphia passing theirs. One or more of the soda taxes in the Bay Area are likely to pass. I think that in the coming years, states around the country will also establish soda taxes.

Published from Kaiser Health News under a creative commons license. KHN is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

11 communities vote for amendment against Citizens United

Wisconsin voters in 11 communities in the April 5 spring election backed a call to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court.

The non-binding referenda passed in Janesville (84 percent), Beloit (74 percent), Platteville (84 percent), Monroe (83 percent), New London (81 percent), Lancaster (85 percent), Brodhead (85 percent), Darlington (81 percent), Clarno (85 percent), York (86 percent) and Belmont (88 percent), according to the grassroots campaign United to Amend and Wisconsin United to Amend.

To date, 72 Wisconsin communities have called for an amendment.

Across the country, 16 legislatures have voted in favor of an amendment, as well as about 700 municipalities.

Ray Spellman, who led the campaign in Darlington said, “We are extremely pleased that these referenda passed by such high margins. This clearly demonstrates the will of the people. It is time for our state representatives to put this resolution to a statewide vote, and to move towards sending a resolution from Wisconsin to the U.S. Congress.”

Four in five Americans — including 80 percent of Republicans — oppose the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision, according to a Bloomberg poll.

A New York Times/CBS poll in June found 85 percent of Americans — including majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents — believe campaign finance system must be fundamentally changed or rebuilt.

Polls consistently show widespread agreement among Democrats, Independents, and Republicans that the campaign finance system is corrupt.

“It is now obvious that we are losing our democracy,” said Nettie McGee of Outagamie County. “The huge money in our political system buys our elections and politicians.”

Political boneheads | Letters to the future: The Paris Climate Project

Hello? People of the future? Anyone there? It’s your forebears checking in with you from generations ago. We were the stewards of the Earth in 2015 — a dicey time for the planet, humankind and life itself. And … well, how’d we do? Anyone still there? Hello.

A gutsy, innovative and tenacious environmental movement arose around the globe back then to try lifting common sense to the highest levels of industry and government. We had made great progress in developing a grassroots consciousness about the suicidal consequences for us (as well as those of you future earthlings) if we didn’t act quickly to stop the reckless industrial pollution that was causing climate change. Our message was straightforward: When you realize you’ve dug yourself into a hole, the very first thing to do is stop digging.

Unfortunately, our grassroots majority was confronted by an elite alliance of narcissistic corporate greedheads and political boneheads. They were determined to deny environmental reality in order to grab more short-term wealth and power for themselves. Centuries before this, some Native American cultures adopted a wise ethos of deciding to take a particular action only after contemplating its impact on the seventh generation of their descendants. In 2015, however, the ethos of the dominant powers was to look no further into the future than the three-month forecast of corporate profits.

As I write this letter to the future, delegations from the nations of our world are gathering to consider a global agreement on steps we can finally take to rein in the looming disaster of global warming. But at this convocation and beyond, will we have the courage for boldness, for choosing people and the planet over short-term profits for the few? The people’s movement is urging the delegates in advance to remember that the opposite of courage is not cowardice, it’s conformity—just going along with the flow. After all, even a dead fish can go with the flow, and if the delegates don’t dare to swim against the corporate current, we’re all dead.

So did we have the courage to start doing what has to be done? Hello … anyone there?

Editor’s note: World leaders convene in Paris soon for the critical U.N. climate talks. In fact, December of 2015 may be humanity’s last chance to address the crisis of our time.

Will the nations of the world finally pass a global treaty aimed at reducing the most dangerous impacts of global warming … or will we fail at this most crucial task?

Here and on letterstothefuture.org, find letters from authors, artists, scientists and others, written to future generations of their own families, predicting the success or failure of the Paris talks and what came after. Read these letters and write one of your own. The letters will be sent to targeted delegates and citizens convening at the Paris talks.


In Illinois as in Wisconsin, tax breaks to corporations have failed to create the promised jobs

Tax giveaways to corporations are a key component of the Republicans formula for job growth. But they’ve failed miserably in Wisconsin and now there’s evidence they’ve flopped in Illinois as well.

The Chicago Tribune analyzed (http://trib.in/1GnWjHk ) 783 deals the state has made through the Economic Development for a Growing Economy program and found that two-thirds of the companies that completed agreements didn’t maintain agreed-upon job levels.

State officials also can’t say how many jobs have been created by the program, known as EDGE, which Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner wisely put on hold in June.

Since 1999, Illinois has promised more than $1 billion in EDGE tax breaks, which officials say helps lure new firms, hang onto employers who might move elsewhere and encouraging businesses to add jobs. Companies have so far collected about $450.3 million — money that, if collected, would help pay for public services such as education and health care.

Rauner’s move came this summer as he and the Democrats who control the General Assembly disagreed over a new state budget, though new deals the state reached with Amazon and ConAgra Foods before June have only been recently announced.

The Republican governor reiterated last week that, even when the EDGE program is restarted, the state won’t provide tax breaks unless companies create new jobs. At least 78 companies that have signed EDGE deals since 2004 were not required to add jobs, and at least 51 of those were made by the administration of Rauner’s predecessor, Democrat Pat Quinn.

But Rauner defended the tax breaks promised to ConAgra as crucial to the company’s plans to move its headquarters from Omaha, Nebraska, to Chicago. Neither ConAgra nor state officials have disclosed the terms of that deal beyond the requirement that the company add 150 new jobs.

“Getting corporate headquarters for a Fortune 500 company like ConAgra is a big deal long term to the economic growth in Illinois,” Rauner told The Associated Press. “And they will be adding jobs. We would not give them edge credits unless they were adding jobs.”

Recent headlines illustrate that some EDGE recipients not only don’t add new jobs, but cut employees. Mitsubishi received a new EDGE deal in 2011 but now plans to close its plant in Normal, cutting almost 1,200 jobs. Two more EDGE recipients also recently announced layoff plans: 500 jobs at Motorola Mobility in Chicago and 700 at Kraft Foods in Northfield.

Jim Schultz is the director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which oversees EDGE. He called the terms of many of the existing deals “very distasteful.”

David Vaught, a former Quinn budget chief and commerce director, told the newspaper that Quinn wanted to try “anything that could get us a job in a recession.” Some companies openly threatened to leave the state during the recession unless they received tax breaks.

When Quinn announced the $29 million deal with Mitsubishi, he proclaimed, “Illinois is Mitsubishi country and always will be.” But the company, which has received $5.2 million in tax breaks, plans to close the plant in November and move production overseas. A small staff will stay on through May, which could allow the car maker to avoid EDGE provisions requiring repayment if the company closes its Illinois facility within five years of signing the deal.

“When you’re in an economic emergency compounded by decades of financial recklessness, you fight to keep businesses and jobs in Illinois,” Quinn said in a statement defending deals he made.

Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat who’s a longtime critic of EDGE tax breaks, calls the program “deeply flawed.”

“We have no idea what we’re getting in return in for our investment, and we don’t even know if anything works,” he said.

Wisconsinites who blame Gov. Scott Walker for the failure of his Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation should consider the mounting evidence that such programs simply don’t work. In Wisconsin, they’ve been nothing but gifts for Republicans’ cronies. Perhaps in Illinois, Democratic officials were the ones who made out like bandits.

It’s time to end pointless tax breaks for large corporations and the wealthy. In 30-plus years, it has never trickled down. It’s only squirted up.

Tax breaks must target the middle-class people who generate economic activity. They must be used for funding education, infrastructure and social programs — all of which help people who actually need the help.

U.S. businesses uniting to oppose anti-LGBT legislation in states

Major U.S. corporations this week launched a statement by businesses speaking out against an onslaught of anti-LGBT legislation being considered in states around the country, including measures to sanction discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs.

The statement, circulated by the Human Rights Campaign, calls on public officials to defeat or abandon efforts to enact anti-LGBT measures at the state level and offers business leaders an opportunity to join the campaign.

In a recent op-ed for The Washington Post, Apple CEO Tim Cook decried pro-discrimination laws as dangerous and called on business leaders to speak up.

Joining Apple and Cook in the statement for equality are American Airlines, Inc.; Levi Strauss & Co; Microsoft Corp.; Orbitz Worldwide; Replacements, Ltd; ​Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.; Symantec Corporation; and Wells Fargo & Company.

And the list continues to grow.

“Business leaders have made it abundantly clear that these anti-LGBT bills undermine their core values and set dangerous precedents that stifle investment and economic growth,” said HRC president Chad Griffin in a news release. “Anti-equality lawmakers who value corporate investments in their state should sit up, pay attention, and abandon these bills attacking LGBT people.”

The statement that businesses and business leaders are signing says:

“Corporate leaders are speaking out against bills that could allow individuals and businesses to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and other minorities — several versions of which are actively being considered in states across the country.

This proposed legislation is bad for business.

• Equality in the workplace is a business priority to foster talent and innovation, and these state laws undermine this core value.

• These state laws set a dangerous precedent that stifles investment and economic growth by jeopardizing a state’s status as a welcoming place for employees to live and thrive, undermining the success of a business at large.

• It is unreasonable for job creators to recruit a diverse workforce from states that encourage businesses to discriminate against our community of employees or consumers.

• While these bills won’t alter our commitment to equality in the workplace, this legislation sends the wrong message about the states in which we operate and threatens our core corporate commitment to respect all individuals. 

On the Web …

Businesses and business leaders wishing to sign on the statement can download a PDF at http://goo.gl/gKEic2.