Job Losses in Illinois

Published November 21, 2005

Dear Editor:

How ironic that Ralph Martire laments the loss of high-paying jobs from Illinois, when policies he advocates are partly to blame for those job losses.

As reported November 17 by the Chicago Tribune (“Illinois incomes sinking”), Martire’s Center for Tax and Budget Accountability has issued a study showing median family income in Illinois has dropped from $52,515 in 1999 to $46,132. The major culprit in this decline, according to the study, is the loss of high-paying manufacturing jobs.

There is nothing surprising in this. The Illinois Coalition for Jobs, Prosperity and Growth–whose founding members include the Illinois Business Roundtable, Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, Illinois Civil Justice League, and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce–reported last year that Illinois had lost 212,000 high-paying manufacturing jobs since 1990. It further reported Illinois would have 432,000 more jobs overall, if job growth had kept up with national averages.

Business organizations put much of the blame for Illinois’ dismal job performance on heavy-handed regulations and high taxes and fees, the kinds of policies Martire consistently supports.

Earlier this year Illinois narrowly escaped more damage from Martire, when lawmakers failed to enact House Bill 755, a “tax swap” bill Martire helped write. That bill would have hiked personal and business income taxes a lot and lowered property taxes a little, resulting in a net tax hike of more than $2 billion.

The Illinois Coalition for Jobs, Prosperity and Growth said of that proposal, “Unfortunately, the provisions in this bill would result in Illinois having the nation’s highest flat corporate income tax rate of the 32 states with that tax structure, and the second-highest overall business income tax rate. It does nothing to lay the groundwork for future job growth, and would likely result in more jobs being lost as more companies move away.”

Businesspeople know states with heavy business regulations and high taxes and fees lose jobs to states with friendly business climates. And they know Ralph Martire is no friend of theirs–or of the families that rely on the jobs that are driven away by the policies he supports.

Steve Stanek ([email protected]) is managing editor of Budget & Tax News, a national monthly publication of The Heartland Institute.