by Lawrence J. McQuillan, PhD
CNBC just released its 2012 America’s Top States for Business, and guess what, Illinois didn’t top the list (no surprise there), but it wasn’t even in the top half!
Illinois placed a dismal 26th, worse than most of its neighboring states.
Texas took top honors as it has done for three of the six years that CNBC has compiled the ranking. It has never finished below second place since the first ranking in 2007.
Each year CNBC scores all 50 states using 51 metrics on competitiveness developed by the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness, as well as suggestions by the states themselves. This year’s 10 categories were:
• cost of doing business
• quality of life
• infrastructure and transportation
• technology and innovation
• business friendliness
• access to capital
• cost of living
Texas had top-10 finishes in six of the 10 categories of competitiveness.
Illinois, on the other hand, has become so uncompetitive that Texas Gov. Rick Perry bragged about his state poaching Illinois businesses during the CNBC Republican presidential debate: “Listen, there is a reason that Caterpillar [headquartered in Peoria] moved their hydraulics manufacturing and their engine manufacturing to the state of Texas.” Poaching will get easier as Illinois continues its slide.
Illinois fell four places to 26th in 2012, down from 22nd in 2011. It was in the top 10 in only one of the 10 categories, technology and innovation.
Most telling is that Illinois scored worst in the categories directly related to government policies: 26th in the cost of doing business, which includes the tax burden; 36th in workforce, which includes union membership and the success of government worker-training programs; and 46th in business friendliness, which includes the legal and regulatory environment.
So add this to the mountain of evidence already showing Illinois’ oppressive state and local government policies are crushing entrepreneurs and destroying the state’s ability to attract new investment, new businesses and new jobs. This is neatly summed up in CNBC’s ranking of Illinois’ overall economy: 6th worst in the country!
Illinois’ high tax burden, mountains of unfunded public pension liabilities, stacks of unpaid bills, skyrocketing Medicaid costs, and burdensome regulations are crushing entrepreneurs and driving creative, talented people out of the state.
The people of Illinois deserve better and they should demand fresh, responsible policies from Springfield: implementing true pension reform, repealing the 2011 tax hikes, defeating attempts to increase the tax burden through a progressive income tax and charting a long-term plan to abolish the state income tax. These policies would give Illinois a long overdue competitive boost.