Illinois: Corporate Welfare State with a Unionized Government

Illinois: Corporate Welfare State with a Unionized Government

Here’s an interesting email from John Tillman at the Illinois Policy Institute, a non-partisan watchdog of the ongoing mess in Illinois. Tillman’s source is an excellent article on Illinois Review written by Ben VanMetre, a Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst at the Illinois Policy Institute.

Please consider a repost of Quinn’s Illinois: regulations and cronyism crush entrepreneurship by Ben VanMetre.

In Gov. Pat Quinn’s State of the State address, he said, “In our Illinois, small business means big business. Driving economic growth for small businesses requires doing all we can to make sure government is not in the way.”

Quinn is right. Illinois’ economic future depends on a vibrant economy where entrepreneurs can start and grow businesses, create jobs and compete.

Unfortunately, Quinn’s policy solutions contradict his rhetoric. Quinn has been fighting for more government involvement in business, not less.

Despite the fact that Illinois already has $9.3 billion in unpaid bills, in his State of the State address Quinn advocated more government involvement in job creation and business activity: spending for roads, bridges, construction, high-speed rail, water infrastructure, technology, manufacturing and clean energy. More money for government projects requires higher revenues – this leads to calls for higher taxes, on top of the state’s highly regulated business climate. These factors explain why Illinois has one of the least competitive economies in the nation.

Illinois ranked 45th in gross domestic product growth from 2000 to 2010. Illinois’ combined federal and state corporate income tax is the fourth-highest in the industrialized world. And entrepreneurship in Illinois consistently lags behind the rest of the nation.

Illinois’ exploding government debt is crowding out business investment. Need evidence? Illinois has been downgraded 11 times since Quinn took office. The state has the worst credit rating in the nation.

The driver of Illinois’ disastrous business climate is a government that embraces corporate welfare, and continually increases taxes and burdensome regulations.

Illinois can lead the nation in economic output and job creation. But it must start by balancing the state budget, reining back out-of-control spending and taking government handouts off the balance sheets of politically connected businesses.

The Problem in Illinois

Illinois is bought, controlled, and owned by public unions and politicians on the take from public unions.

The unions do not want reform, nor do they want reasonable budgets. They do want more handouts and higher taxes.

Taking control of government in Illinois will not be easy, even with a Republican governor.

The only way to treat unions is the way Chris Christie treated them in New Jersey and the way Scott Walker treated them in Wisconsin. Bear in mind, the Walker solution was only the tip of the iceberg of the five things that need to happen.

Five Recommended Solutions

  1. Scrapping of all public employee collective bargaining agreements
  2. National right-to-work laws
  3. Scrapping of Davis-Bacon and all prevailing wage laws
  4. End defined benefit plans for public employees
  5. Renegotiation of existing benefits in public defined benefit pension plans

Those recommendations would fix problems nationally, not just in Illinois.

Numbers 1-3 will bring down labor costs, not just for the state, but for every city and municipality in the state (an if implemented nationally, in every state). Numbers 4-5 are needed to solve massive pension underfunding.

Like the Illinois Policy Institute, I do not care if it’s a democrat or a republican that gets the job done, but I do care that it does get done.

Unfortunately, I fully expect the Illinois pension problem will not be solved until the fund is within a few years of running out of money. However, that may happen far sooner than anyone thinks.

Some plans may be broke by 2020 in my estimation. All it will take is another big decline in the stock market with the pension plans overweight the wrong areas.

About the author: Mike “Mish” Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for Sitka Pacific Capital Management. His top-rated global economics blog Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis offers insightful commentary every day of the week. He is also a contributing “professor” on Minyanville, a community site focused on economic and financial education. Every Thursday he does a podcast on HoweStreet and on an ad hoc basis he contributes to many other websites, including UnionWatch.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!