Ben VanMetre | Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Illinois Policy Institute
It should be no surprise that people are fleeing Illinois. The state is 42nd in personal income growth, is one of two states experiencing economic decline and has an unemployment rate of 9.5%.
A recent survey of small business owners ranked Illinois the 5th-worst state for small business. Illinois is home to the 4th-highest corporate income tax in the industrialized world, the nation’s 2nd-highest property taxes and America’s 4th-highest minimum wage.
The bottom line is that Illinois is not structured for success, and the state has become the quintessential example of a hostile business environment.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is looking to capitalize on Illinois’ weaknesses.
This week, Perry launched a campaign to lure Illinois businesses to Texas — rolling out digital, radio and print ads. The governor will also be traveling to Chicago for a two-day meet and greet with Illinois’ businesses leaders.
In an open letter to Illinois businesses Perry wrote:
If you’re a business owner in Illinois, I want to express my admiration for your ability to survive in an environment that, intentionally or not, is designed for you to fail. With rising taxes and government interference on the upswing, your situation is not unlike a burning building on the verge of collapse.
If you’re thinking of “just riding it out” you might want to reconsider. There is an escape route to economic freedom . . . a route to Texas.
The lone star state has proven that limited government, low taxes and a pro-business mindset work wonders when it comes to job creation and a robust economy. If you’re ready for a fresh start in a place that appreciates job creators like you, it’s time to check out Texas.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn responded by saying:
We know how to do it in Illinois. We don’t need any advice from Gov. Perry . . . His state, frankly, is water challenged, and any company thinking of going to Texas better check on their water.
Water? Really? That’s your sales pitch?
No wonder Perry has had success poaching Illinois businesses in the past.
During the Republican presidential debate, he bragged about luring Caterpillar Inc.: “Listen, there is a reason that Caterpillar [headquartered in Peoria] moved their hydraulics manufacturing and their engine manufacturing to the state of Texas.”
Caterpillar recently announced plans to lay off more than 460 employees at its plant in Decatur, an area that already faces 13.7% unemployment.
Unfortunately, Quinn’s policy recommendations are as weak as his sales pitch. Quinn said passing a progressive income tax is “one of my goals before I stop breathing.” What’s more, he’s failed to lead on pension reform and is demanding a pension funding guarantee, which will place pension funding ahead of public safety, education and services for the poor and disadvantaged.
We’re still betting on Illinois and we’ve put together a blueprint for turning things around, but the clock is ticking.
If Springfield fails to act soon, we may see our futures ride off into the sunset.