Lawmakers React to Possible Cat Move

By WEEK Producer

August 11, 2011 Updated Aug 11, 2011 at 1:08 PM CDT

It was the talk of Central Illinois Saturday during a town hall meeting on Illinois State University's campus.

The letter, which our news partners at the Pantagraph obtained, from Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman to Governor Pat Quinn saying essentially, shape up or we're moving out of Illinois.

In the letter sent March 21, Oberhelman tells Quinn, "we certainly never considered the possibility of Caterpillar relocating, but I have to admit, the policymakers in Springfield seem to make it harder by the day."

Those policymakers from the previous general assembly approved a 66-percent income tax hike, making Illinois one of the most expensive states in the county to do business in.

Oberhelman went on to tell Quinn he's been wined and dined by at least four other states to move Cat there including Texas, Indiana, New Jersey and Wisconsin.

Still a Caterpillar spokesman says the letter, which was leaked by a government source, is designed to show Quinn that Oberhelman wants to be involved in finding a solution that benefits the company, which employees 23,000 people in the state.

"I think the letter should serve as an embarrassment to Gov. Quinn," said U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, (R) 10th District.

Now Repulican politicians, Kirk, are lining up to tell the democrats, I told you so.

"I think Gov. Quinn has made a serious error here and we will see the potential departure of major employers Iike Caterpillar because of mistakes Gov. Quinn has made," he said.

U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger says it is just not the right way to do business in Illinois.

"Reduce the regulatory and tax burden on these companies so they can bring their products within cost and still pay a high wage and be able to sell those products overseas," said Kinzinger, (R) 11th District.

As for Quinn, he refused to answer questions about the letter Saturday, but plans to sit down with Oberhelman April 5th to talk.