Negotiations on STAR bonds not happening in public
SPRINGFIELD - Legislative leaders yanked a giant Glen Carbon tourist attraction from center stage at their veto session and whisked it behind their curtain.
In the first two days of the session a bill that would return retail sales taxes from the project to its developers failed to reach the floor.
Robert Reed, communication director for Gov. Patrick Quinn, said late Thursday that nothing would happen Friday.
The bill passed in the last legislative session but Quinn signed an amendatory veto that would split sales tax revenues between the state and developers on a 50-50 basis.
Illinois Department of Revenue Director Brian Hamer warned that the bill, as proposed, would cost the state at least $15 million a year.
Rather than override the veto or accept it, legislators shrouded the project in secrecy.
"There are too many negotiations going on right now," Sen. Kyle McCarter said on Thursday.
"The fact that no one is talking about this in the open bothers me," he said.
McCarter said he sent a letter to Republican senators urging them to vote against the bill.
Last spring the bill passed by a margin of 78-39 in the House and 51-4 in the Senate.
Since then the state's finances have deteriorated, adding urgency to Hamer's warning.
"The cost for the average senate district is $254,000," McCarter said. "I can help a lot of handicapped folks and people with real needs in my district with that money."
Also since spring, legislators have learned that a Kansas project with identical sales tax financing pulled business from nearby stores rather than generating new sales.
In two years after Nebraska Furniture Mart opened at the Village West Mall, Kansas auditors found that sales at furniture stores within 100 miles plunged from $256 million to $203 million.
McCarter said sponsors of the Illinois legislation promised 10,000 new jobs.
"That might be inflated," he said.
He said, "This is not going to help Troy. This is not going to help anyone of these neighboring communities."
"The sponsors of this legislation are not from the area of the project. That should send a signal."
The bill was sponsored by Sen. James Clayborne (D-Belleville). It would capture at least $15 million a year in state sales taxes and channel it to mall developers including John Costello, son of U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Belleville).
The project is called University Town Center, a 900-acre mall slated for construction within the bounds of Interstate 255/270 and State Routes 157/162.
Bruce Holland of Holland Construction is identified as president of the University Town Center.
John Costello is identified as a principal of University Town Center.
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State Senator Kyle McCarter
310 W Gallatin St
Vandalia, IL 62471-2821