Taking the bad with the bad

Taking the bad with the bad

Encouraging a vibrant economy that generates new jobs ought to be our elected officials' top priority.

Here are a couple of bracing statistics that demonstrate why Illinois is in such deep financial trouble.

The state has lost 35 percent of its manufacturing base since 2000 — that's 300,000-plus good-paying jobs.

Here's another one to choke on. While those manufacturing jobs were disappearing, others were taking their place, but not nearly enough to meet the demand. Since 2000, Illinois has enjoyed a net gain of roughly 5,000 jobs.

Greg Baise, president of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, recently dropped those two depressing statistics on his audience at the City Club of Chicago. It's our hope that Baise continues to speak and speak out about Illinois' financial woes all across the state because it's clear that Illinois' elected leaders aren't getting the message.

So deep is the failure of long-term government leadership in Illinois that Baise told his audience that "government is closing Illinois one day at a time."

"Manufacturers have had it, and many of them won't take it anymore. They aren't necessarily fleeing the state, although many have left. Instead, when expanding, they do it in other states," he said.

That explains why other Midwestern states are doing well while the Land of Lincoln wallows in failure.

Unfortunately, the state is mired in a partisan battle until Nov. 8, after which some hope that Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic legislative leaders will reach some kind of accommodation.

But given the nature of the standoff, it's hard to credit that theory.

Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan are locked in a political death struggle. Madigan insists on dramatic tax increases while Rauner said he won't sign a tax increase into law unless Madigan agrees to some change that would jump-start the economy, including modifications of workers' compensation law.

Their battle has consumed more than a year with no progress.

But change is a necessity if Illinois is to escape the doldrums — the status quo must go.

Baise offered a variety of proposals to get the state moving — workers' compensation changes, tax hikes, modifications to the state's beleaguered public pension systems, reductions in costly regulations and permanent tax credits for research and development.

One need not accept all that he proposes to know that at least some is required if Illinois is to be revived. This state is in as bad a shape as it's ever been, and there's only one certainty about it. Things will get worse unless our elected leaders — Rauner and Madigan — work together for the general public welfare.

How many more wounds inflicted by this state's political class can this state stand?

Please, let's not try to find out.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion

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David Green wrote on September 07, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Yes, business leaders are never to be questioned. They have always done such a wonderful job, especially in 2008. They always know what's best for everyone, even if they are the only ones who benefit.

Sid Saltfork wrote on September 07, 2016 at 3:09 pm

Readers should Google the name Greg Baise.  They should read his background from the Big Jim Thompson times up to now.  Check out the political front groups that he founded.  Greg Baise is just another paid GOP talking-head.