Stand Up! Chicago Applauds CME Decision to Return $15 Million in TIF Funding

Contact: Catherine Murrell, Stand Up! Chicago, 312.523.3882

Stand Up! Chicago Applauds CME Decision to Return $15 Million in TIF Funding
Move Follows Last Tuesday’s Golden Toilet Delivery and Protest

Stand Up! Chicago welcomes the decision by the CME Group to respond to criticism by Chicago taxpayers by relinquishing its claim to the $15 million TIF awarded to the exchange for high-end renovations to the Chicago Board of Trade building.

The move follows a dramatic protest last Tuesday in which coalition members of Stand Up! Chicago delivered a golden toilet to CME headquarters as well as months of protest and outcry on the part of working low-income and middle-class Chicago families. The golden toilet represented the luxurious bathroom, café, and fitness center renovations the TIF money was to finance for the highly profitable company. (See video here.)

In a series of protests organized by Stand Up! Chicago and community allies, struggling Chicagoans demanded the return of the $15 million TIF award so that this money could be put to use creating jobs, saving our schools and libraries, and providing essential services to vulnerable populations such as senior citizens and persons with mental illness.

“We’re pleased that CME has listened to the people of Chicago and recognized that TIF money belongs to our schools and communities, not billion-dollar corporations,” said Stand Up! Chicago policy analyst Elizabeth Parisian, author of an op-ed criticizing the CME tax breaks that appeared in Thursday’s Chicago Tribune.

“Terrence Duffy didn’t meet with me when we attempted to present him with a golden toilet last week,” said Shani Smith, an underemployed Chicagoan who served as a spokesperson for last Tuesday’s delegation to the CME. “But, CME did finally get our message—at least about the $15 million TIF.”

As welcome as the CME’s decision is, the $15 million in TIF funding is dwarfed by the $77 million in tax breaks that the state gave the global options-trading giant last month — a point that CME Executive Chairman Terrence Duffy himself acknowledged in his letter to Mayor Emanuel explaining the decision:

“While we appreciate the ability to have applied for TIF assistance several years ago,” Duffy wrote to the mayor, “the tax law changes approved last year are much more important to our ability to serve as a leading employer in Chicago and Illinois going forward.”

“Hopefully the CME will continue to reevaluate its desire for taxpayer subsidies, and will return the millions in public money it has taken over the years back to our communities,” said Parisian. “Returning TIF money is a good start, but CME still has a long way to go before it can truly give up its crown as Chicago’s king of corporate welfare.”

“We’re going to continue fighting to get our money back,” said Smith. “Our tax dollars should be invested in our families and communities—in jobs and essential services—and not in corporate welfare.”

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