Caterpillar: Small Step for State in Tax Incentive Package

By WEEK Producer

December 14, 2011 Updated Dec 15, 2011 at 10:33 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Caterpillar says the state's $330 million Economic Growth and Tax incentive package is a step in the right direction but a Caterpillar official says it fails to address the problem of making the state more business friendly.

With approval this week by the legislature of the package, Caterpillar will get $2 billion in tax credits over the next five years. The tax credits are a benefit for research and development at Caterpillar facilities like the one in Mossville.

"Certainly we're pleased that the legislature took action on the research and development tax credit here this week.  At the same time that research and development tax credit in Illinois has lapsed three times in the last 8 years," said Caterpillar Spokesman Jim Dugan.

Dugan says Caterpillar would like to expand in Illinois but adds a lack of stability and predictability with the state makes that difficult.  Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce executive Director Rob Parks says tax incentives like those contained in the package should be permanent and available to more businesses.

"You've got to look at all pieces of the pie.  You can't just look at the revenue side, you can't just look at the expense side.  You've got to look at all of it total tax reform could be a part of that but we have to realize we're gonna have to do less than we use to do," Parks said.

Dugan says, with 23,000 employees in Illinois, Caterpillar has a big stake in the financial health of the state.  He says the company would like to see more reforms to cut down on the number of workers compensation claims as well as improvements to the state's pension plan.

"What we're hoping happens is that the state moves from a crisis mode where they are reacting to issues with a band aid approach to developing a long term plan to get the state in strong fiscal health which will encourage companies not to want to leave but to grow," he added.

Governor Quinn is expected to sign the tax reform incentive package soon.