Illinois catnip for governors
Why wouldn't governors from other states try to lure businesses away from Illinois?
When hungry wolves target a herd of deer, they always look for the sickest and the weakest to cut out and take down.
It's the same thing with governors seeking to poach businesses from other states. They target the weakest, and that's why they keep coming to Illinois.
Last year, it was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Last week, it was Texas Gov. Rick Perry. This week, it's Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
Perry used a radio advertising campaign to announce he was visiting Chicago and would be happy to meet with businesses that might be interested in moving.
"Get out while there's still time," Perry said.
Scott is taking a lower profile, sending letters to Illinois businesses that urge them to buy a "one-way ticket" to the Sunshine State.
"While Florida's economic formula is working, we know that Illinois' formula of more taxing and more spending ISN'T WORKING," he said.
Unfortunately, Scott is correct. While Illinois has much going for it — central location, interstate highways, a skilled and educated work force — it's not a great place to do business.
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn would argue otherwise, and so will state Republican Party leaders. But the facts say otherwise.
Illinois has a reputation as a state with a hostile business climate in a host of categories, including taxes and regulation as well as worker' compensation and litigation costs. A recent survey of Small Business Friendliness Conducted by Thumbtack and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation ranked Illinois as the fifth least friendly state for small business. Only California, Hawaii, Maine and Rhode Island were worse.
Just last year, a survey of 650 corporate chief executive officers ranked Illinois 48th out of the 50 states for its business climate.
That's not even the half of it. No one should be under any misapprehension about the effect of the state's disastrous finances on business retention or recruitment.
Illinois is effectively bankrupt, deeply in debt and struggling to maintain public pension systems that are nearly $100 billion underfunded.
That spells instability, and business hates instability. No one can predict what the future holds, except that it will include proposals to raise taxes on individuals and businesses.
No wonder the governors of other states are coming here to see who might be interested in more friendly, more stable, more competent, less expensive and less corrupt climates in which to do business.
Gov. Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a host of other politicians and pundits can insult the outsiders who come to visit. But they're not to blame for Illinois' problems. We have met the enemy, and he is us.