Illinois Finance Authority expansion a bad idea, say 2 GOP lawmakers
Three Republican lawmakers debated at length over expanding the authority of the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA).
SB43, sponsored by Rep. Natalie Manley (R-Joliet), would provide that the IFA expand participation to women, veterans and the developmentally disabled.
But the bill does much more than that, Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) noted at the May 22 House floor debate.
“It appears that you are increasing the ceiling on direct IFA industrial project loans from $300,000 to $600,000,” Breen said.
Manley said without the exact numbers in front of her she could not confirm, but Breen assured her that is what the bill does. She added it was an initiative of the IFA.
“But that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a good idea,” Breen said. “They are expanding their own authority.”
Good idea or not, Manley countered, noting the IFA has been successful thus far. Again, Breen brought up the $300,000 rise.
“We are expanding the types of loans and financial products,” Breen said.
Manley told Breen she thinks he would love it if given the chance.
“You are right on the edge there, I can see it,” Manley said.
Bills like the one before him that often come before the House, said Breen, are an attempt to expand authority and raise the marginal increase in the risk profile.
“That is an uncertainty that the General Assembly is going to have to work out on their own,” Breen said.
Once again, Manley attempted to sway him. But Breen would not budge, saying his analysis does not show the expansion to women, veterans and the developmentally disabled.
“While that might be a good thing, I am seeing a lot of other items that members should be aware of prior to casting their vote,” Breen said.
Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) wasted no time rejecting the bill, saying members may remember it coming before them last year as the Property Asses Clean Energy bill, which would have allowed municipalities to set up bond agreements allowing commercial properties to have clean energy projects on their building.
“Then in the case of default, guess who is holding the bag … the taxpayers,” Ives said.
She said the bill was a disaster waiting to happen in Illinois. “It’s already blown up in California and had problems on the East Coast,” she added.
After Ives highly encouraged a no vote, saying the state has better uses for its money, Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee) wanted to know if any type of credit or background check was done on the entities seeking a loan through the municipality and IFA.
“The vetting process is exactly the same as in any other situation where you would be asking to borrow money,” Manley said.
With personal experience with private companies asking for subsidies without background checks, Skillicorn said municipalities often get stuck with bad loans.
“Unfortunately a lot of these fail, and it is going to be on taxpayers,” Skillicorn said. “This is corporate welfare plain and simple, so please vote no.”
Unlike his GOP peers, Rep. Steve Anderson rose in full support of SB43.
“This is not what the two previous speakers said it is,” Anderson said.
It is not corporate welfare; it is an expansion of a bonding process, according to Anderson, who said it is done every day.
“It puts no one at risk except for the homeowners who choose to participate,” Anderson said.
SB43 passed 64-43 and moved out of the House.