Rauner: Tax burden driving Illinois businesses, people to flee state
Illinois is bleeding jobs to neighboring states like Wisconsin and is in urgent need of reform to close the wound, Gov. Bruce Rauner said at a press conference in Chicago's Hegewisch neighborhood.
“This is critically important,” Rauner said. “Whether we’re talking about an unbalanced budget or needing to properly fund our schools and our human services – which we absolutely have to do – these are not just sound bites for the media. This is not just a political fight. This is about people’s lives.”
As businesses leave, so do people. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Illinois lost more than 11,000 people to Wisconsin in 2015, or approximately 30 people a day, on average. Lake County has been fortunate that its population has remained relatively steady.
The problem, Rauner argued, is the hostile business climate in Illinois, including high property taxes.
“Our No. 1 burden … is our property tax burden," Rauner said. "We have the highest property taxes in America. That makes it unaffordable to compete here. That forces (businesses) to have higher prices to cover the high property taxes here. Customers can go across the border and have cheaper costs in large part because the property taxes are cheaper.”
The state needs to save small businesses whose job creation and taxes provide the funding foundation for Illinois, Rauner said.
“These guys are the tax base,” Rauner said. “These guys create the jobs and pay the taxes that support our government, our human services (and) our schools. If they can’t make it, (and) if they can’t compete because the environment here in Illinois is not attractive and competitive, we won’t have a good future for the people of Illinois, and we will never have balanced budgets in the future.”
Without reform to make the state more business-friendly and competitive, Illinois can expect to see more businesses and people leaving to set up shop in Wisconsin.
“We’re not competitive," Rauner said. "That pushes our sales out. That pushes our businesses out. We’re not competitive, and as a result, our tax base erodes, and we don’t have the tax revenue to support a balanced budget and to fund our schools and human services. This is the challenge. We have to become competitive so we can afford to become compassionate.”