The state of Illinois is sound. As long as you ignore all of the state’s problems and grade on the curve. That’s the message I took away from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s State of the State message today:
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn fashioned his State of the State speech Wednesday into a 2014 re-election treatise, calling for a hike in the minimum wage, touted his pension-reform efforts and repeatedly stressed that “Illinois is making a comeback.”
“We’ve led Illinois’ comeback one hard step at a time. We’ve worked to repair decades of damage, and we’re getting the job done,” Quinn told a joint session of the General Assembly during a speech interrupted repeatedly by applause from the House and Senate Democratic supermajorities.
Ignored was that Illinois’s minimum wage is higher than that of any adjoining state, making it hard for Illinois businesses to compete with their just across the border competitors. Note that many of Illinois’s population centers (Chicago, the Quad Cities, East St. Louis) are on the state’s border. Or that Illinois’s taxes and lousy fiscal condition make poaching Illinois’s businesses away very attractive to neighboring states.
Ignored was the recent study from the University of Illinois that found that the state’s public pension reform measure, enacted into law with so much difficulty, does almost nothing to solve the state’s public pension problems.
Ignored were the serious legal challenges to the pension reform law.
Ignored was that Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates of any state in the Union and the highest of any large state.
Ignored was that most of Illinois’s counties still haven’t recovered from the Great Recession.
Ignored was the impending lapse of the temporary income tax hike that was supposed to give state legislators breathing room to solve the state’s problems.
Almost ignored was that Illinois’s credit rating remains the lowest in the nation. But the credit agencies are reviewing the situation, we’re assured.
Completely absent was any message of the city of Chicago’s public pensions cliff. I don’t know where Chicago is going to come up with a billion dollars the state has demanded it put into its public pension fund. Gov. Quinn didn’t drop any hints, either.