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CME Group Gets Hostile Welcome in Springfield

By Chris Bentley in News on Nov 9, 2011 7:20PM

2011_11_9_CME_logo.jpg The world’s largest owner and operator of financial exchanges is in Springfield to ask for an $85 million tax break.

Terrence Duffy, executive chairman of CME Group, faced an unreceptive legislature Tuesday in his first Statehouse pitch for the tax cut, which he said is necessary to keep the $20-billion company in the state:

“We’re not threatening anybody,” Duffy continued, disclosing his firm paid $108 million in taxes to Illinois in 2010. “We like Chicago. We love Illinois. We want to remain a big part of it.”

Some of that love may stem from surging profits. CME profit rose 29 percent last quarter, while operating expenses ticked up only 4 percent. The company owns the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade.

CBOE Holdings Inc., which called last quarter the best in its history, would also see a 50 percent reduction in their state income tax rate under the measure. And Hoffman Estates-based Sears would get the extended tax breaks it has been seeking to avoid moving out of Illinois.

Gov. Pat Quinn backs the tax-cut package, which he demanded include breaks for low-income working families as well. Illinois Republicans, for their part, threw in LLC filing fee breaks for small businesses and a boost in the estate tax deduction.

All that horse trading has carved out a somewhat unwieldy bill, funding for which has not been fully thought through, some say.

Critics on both sides of the aisle expressed their concerns Tuesday at Duffy’s reception. State Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) questioned the state’s priorities in light of widespread layoffs and pay cuts. Republicans said the package lacked a proper funding structure.

At least Duffy’s trip downstate bought him a reprieve from the roar of Occupy Chicago’s drums outside the Board of Trade.