Earlier this week, on its last day of session, a lame-duck Illinois Legislature passed a 67-percent income tax increase, along with large business and corporate tax hikes. The measure was approved by just a single vote, and was shrouded in backroom deals and payoffs to constituency groups across the board. The Chicago Tribune’s lead editorial the following day had a short headline: “Goodbye, Jobs.”
Governors and other politicians from Missouri, Wisconsin and Indiana are all looking to capitalize on the self-inflicted wound of a competing state, erecting welcome signs at their borders inviting Illinois residents and businesses to relocate. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels likened his neighbor state to “the dysfunctional family down the block,” while newly-elected Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told taxpayers to “Escape to Wisconsin!”
Michigan has plenty of its own problems, but Gov. Rick Snyder might also consider rolling out the welcome mat to fed-up Illinois business owners voting with their feet.
Illinois is fast becoming the economic abyss of the Midwest. According to a 60 Minutes report on the subject of state budgets, the “Land of Lincoln” now never pays its bills on time, with $5 billion outstanding; it’s more than six months behind on paying for things like Medicaid, state colleges, small business pharmacists and government workers.
“[When taking a phone call] the first words out of my mouth are usually an apology,” said state Comptroller Dan Hynes. “The state of Illinois is known as a deadbeat state…the worst in the country.”
With high taxes, strong unions and excessive regulations, Illinois should be a progressive dreamland. But that dream has become a nightmare for a simple reason most non-politicians intuitively understand: There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Illinois state Senator Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, gave this verdict on the tax hike vote: “Here’s an investment tip, put a lot of money into moving vans.”
This week, the Mackinac Center’s Michael LaFaive reported that for the first time in more than five years Michigan was not the top state for outbound migration, “losing” that title to New Jersey. Who knows – maybe some of those outbound Illinois moving vans might be heading toward Michigan in the not too distant future.