Satellite TV companies are angry about a proposed new tax they say could add $55 a year to an average customer's bill.
In May, the Illinois Senate narrowly approved a bill to impose the tax, which supporters say would generate an estimated $75 million for the state's education assistance fund.
The proposal, sponsored by Senate president John Cullerton, D-Chicago, would tax 5 percent of the gross revenue of satellite TV companies.
Lawmakers in the Illinois House could vote on the proposed tax when they meet for a veto session later this month, or during a lame duck session in January.
"The cable industry pays 5 percent just for doing business in their respective host communities," said Joe Handley, president of theCable Television & Communications Association of Illinois. "Satellite pays nothing."
Cable companies pay franchise fees to municipalities of up to 5 percent of their revenue in a particular town or city. Satellite companies do not have to pay franchise fees.
If approved, the 5 percent tax likely would be passed on to customers and could add $55 a year to an average user's bill, opponents say. There are roughly 1.3 million satellite TV customers in Illinois, about one third of the market.
Officials at DirectTV and Dish, the two main satellite TV providers,see the tax as an effort by big cable companies such as Comcast to put them at a competitive disadvantage.
They reject the argument from cable companies that the tax would level the playing field.
"It's akin to airline passengers paying to lay railroad tracks," said Andrew Reinsdorf, senior vice president for government affairs for DirectTV. "We don't think it makes sense."
Satellite companies don't need access to streets and driveways to connect cables to customers, a reason cable companies have to negotiate franchise fees, opponents of the proposed tax said.
State Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, and State Sen. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, voted against the tax when it came before the senate and passed on 30-27 vote.
"I don't think government should be in the business of deciding who should have an advantage in business," Sen. Jacobs said.
In the House, State Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, has yet to take a position on the satellite tax.
"I have had a lot of people that have Dish emailing and calling me to ask me to vote against it," he said. "But I want to take a close look at the bill before I make a firm commitment."
After a similar tax was introduced in Masschusetts, the number of satellite subscribers went down, which also cut into that state's projected revenue from the tax, Mr. Reinsdorf said.
State Rep. Rich Morthland, R-Cordova, was unavailable for comment.
Today is Saturday, May 18, the 138th day of 2013. There are 227 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: A large variety of children's wagons and gigs have arrived in thecity and are being sold at war prices. 1888 -- 125 years ago: All Rock Island retail houses, with the exception of a clothingstore and a jewelry store, have agreed to early closing hours during the summer months.The store will be closed at 8 p.m. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Baseball enthusiasts in Rock Island are attempting to raise$20,000 to keep the Island City Park open, despite the fact that the city has no franchise inorganized baseball this year. 1938 -- 75 years ago: The organization of a third rural young people's unit will beundertaken tomorrow night at the Milan Presbyterian Church, with Mrs. Mildred K.Wellman, home advisor, and Robert Smith, county farm adviser in charge. 1963 -- 50 years ago: Deere & Co. will begin a "big switch" on its telephone systemMonday morning. The extension numbers of all 1,600 telephones on the firm's EastMoline and Moline exchanges will be changed Monday morning. 1988 -- 25 years ago: East Moline's June Jamboree VI -- Nostalgia Days, will seemlike a '60s revival with the appearance of stars like Bobby Vee, Freddie Cannon, PeterNoone, Turtles, The Grass Roots and Lou Christie. This year's festival has beenexpanded to five days, June 22-26, at the Northeast Park complex.