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Governor Quinn Has a Lot to Answer For

By Michael Kleen

2011 was a good year for Governor Pat Quinn, but it was a terrible one for the State of Illinois. As the new year dawns, it is abundantly clear that the more the governor gets what he wants, the worse our prospects for digging out of the hole his policies and the policies of his predecessors have put us in become.

Recently, a poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute found that Governor Quinn had a 35.5 percent job approval rating and that only 14.9 percent of those polled believed Illinois was headed in the right direction. In response, Governor Quinn told the press he was “not too concerned” about those numbers. That might seem surprising coming from someone whose job depends upon winning the hearts and minds of at least 51 percent of the electorate, but the fact is that Governor Quinn and his cohort of incumbent politicians simply do not care what the people of Illinois think, because we continue to reelect them despite proving time and time again to be utterly inept leaders.

Governor Quinn’s approval rating is bound to fall even lower after the Illinois legislature approved a tax exemption for several companies who threatened to leave the state after last year’s hefty corporate income tax increase. Charges of “crony capitalism” were immediately leveled, but the real reason for the public’s outrage was that the reaction of these companies to the tax increase was entirely predictable. For the Quinn administration to backpedal and make exceptions for these companies demonstrates a realization that the tax increase was a big mistake. Now small businesses will suffer while those who can afford access to the governor get away scot-free.

Read the rest of the column at the Disclosure!

Illinois’ Ship of Fools

By Michael Kleen

Over the past decade, Illinois legislators have borrowed and spent our state into the ground, and now they seem determined to tax it into the ground as well. This is no harmless “politics as usual” – their budgetary machinations have very real consequences. Looming fiscal crisis, coupled with an inability to find solutions other than raiding pension funds or raising taxes, is contributing to an overall decline in our quality of life, not to mention crippling the job prospects of the average Illinoisan. Like a ship of fools, our public officials are ignorant of their course and blind to the injury they cause.

While Governor Quinn and the Illinois Legislature wrangle over how to fix their mess, they are facing an exodus of their tax base. Companies and individuals are fleeing to greener pastures, contributing to an overall decline in the state’s political clout. Thanks to slow growth rates compared to states like Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Arizona, Illinois lost a Congressional seat in 2000 and another in 2010. What do Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Arizona have in common? Besides a warmer climate, all have low tax rates. Florida and Texas have no state income tax at all.

Since the Illinois Legislature passed a dramatic personal and corporate income tax increase (not to mention a new Internet sales tax) earlier this year, companies such as Sears, Jimmy John’s, and Caterpillar have all publically threatened to leave Illinois. According to Jim Dugan, Caterpillar’s chief spokesman, the Illinois tax increase will cost the company’s 23,000 employees in the state about $40 million this year. Like many individual taxpayers who have gravitated toward states in the South, Caterpillar recently announced plans to build manufacturing plants in Texas and North Carolina rather than Illinois…

Read the entire column at the Disclosure!

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