A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but the Chicago Mercantile Exchange certainly won’t be as sweet to the people of Illinois if they are forced to change their name.

When a company names itself after the state or city it’s located in, it normally expects to remain in that place. Texas Instruments or New York Life would surprise the world if they left Texas or Manhattan respectively. But this is exactly what the Chicago Mercantile Exchange may be forced to do if something isn’t done about Chicago’s – and Illinois’s – burdensome tax regime.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has been in the heart of downtown Chicago for over a century. They have withstood a Great Depression, numerous recessions, and have maintained strength and dignity. They are one of the leading commodity exchanges in the country, and manage several investment and consulting subsidiaries. Annually they yield a profit of $2.58 billion and provide about 2,000 jobs to Chicagoans. 

But these profits and jobs may soon be taken elsewhere. The company may be forced to move their iconic corporation to a different state due to Illinois’ punitive corporate tax increases.

In January, Illinois Democrats hiked corporate taxes to 7-percent. That increase alone would require CME to pay an extra $50 million a year – CME will now have the burden of paying 9.5-percent in income taxes. The increase now makes Illinois-based businesses’ tax burden the third worst in the nation.

As we have seen in states such as California and Michigan and countries like Greece, when governments raise corporate taxes, favor Cadillac union benefits, and enact suffocating regulatory regimes, companies leave. They take their jobs and investments with them and abandon the sinking ship.  

And yet, in the wake of CME’s cry for mercy, Governor Quinn is still defending his tax increase. It seems he will defend it straight to the end.  For Governor Quinn it is, “Damn the facts, full stupid ahead!”

To make matters worse, Illinois recently revealed that it has been avoiding making payments on its bills. The state government is over $13 billion in the hole.  Pursuing anti-growth policies – such as driving away one of the state’s most important financial institutions – will not help alleviate the situation. 

Illinois never needed a tax increase. What they do need to do is put down the tax-and-spend bottle and sober up.  If the state wants to avoid becoming America’s Greece then they need to right their ship by creating a low tax, pro-growth, and business friendly environment.  In other words, they need to keep productive companies and financial institutions like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in their state.

The Indianapolis-Chicago Mercantile Exchange just doesn’t have the same ring to it.  


Call your state representative, senator, and governor to tell them that you are upset about jobs leaving Illinois. To find your legislators, click here.