CME Group watching Ill. legislature closely

November 7, 2011 (CHICAGO)

CME Group executives Craig Donohue and Terrence Duffy attended the annual Holocaust Museum luncheon at the Sheraton Monday afternoon having made it clear that depending on what happens in Springfield this week their 163-year-old securities trading firm might be leaving Chicago within the next year.

"It will be an interesting week," said Duffy. "I am going to be down in Springfield, obviously, all week. Hopefully the legislature understands the value that the CME Group brings not only to Chicago but to the state of Illinois and the rest of the country."

The CME Group owns several exchanges trading billions in securities and commodities. Conservatively, it generates at least tens of thousands of jobs in the region. CME complains that Illinois taxes trades that originate out of state, costing the company $150 million more than it should have to pay.

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton is sympathetic.

"We have discovered that the way in which they're being taxed is very much unfair," said Cullerton.

But Gov. Pat Quinn say a tax cut for CME or any company threatening to leave the state must be accompanied by other cuts for small businesses as well as middle and lower income individuals.

"We're not just going to help corporations and forget about everyday people who work for those corporations," said Quinn.

But how could Illinois, still mired in multi-billion deficit, afford tax cuts? Without being specific, Cullerton says the state tax code could be changed in the next few days.

"That's something I think we can do and we can do it in a responsible way," said Cullerton.

CME's Duffy will watch what happens and says the General Assembly's action or lack of same will trigger a decision by his board.

"It will only trigger something that we've been looking at all along, which is what's in the best interest of our shareholders…and I've said that from day one," said Duffy.

Several states, including Indiana, reportedly have offered CME Group tax incentives to relocate.

Duffy says his company has complained about taxes for many years but apparently the corporate tax increase earlier this year now makes it cost effective to move elsewhere for a better deal.

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