The 2014 State of the State

by Dave Schuler on January 29, 2014

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.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

... January 29, 2014 at 2:21 pm

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.

Hmm. Seems to me some of Illinois’s commercial problems could be ameliorated somewhat with LESS infrastructure. Knock down the bridges over the Mississippi River, for example, and people would be less inclind to cross over to Missouri or Iowa to do their shopping. Maybe build a moat along border with Indiana. Make it salt water and put Great White Sharks in the canal to keep it nice and scary.

PD Shaw January 29, 2014 at 2:40 pm

I’ll give teh Governor a pass on how bad things suck during a re-election year, but not addressing the impending lapse of the temporary tax and its impact on the budget seems like malpractice. Is the plan not to talk about it until after the election in November and then presumably continue it?

... January 31, 2014 at 1:57 pm

The SOTU and the SOTS just sucked the life right out of you, huh? Well, that’s a common occurrence….

Dave Schuler January 31, 2014 at 2:16 pm

A blog tends to be a reactive or responsive medium. I find what’s being written in the professional media and blogosphere right now incredibly boring. People identify problems and propose solutions but the relationship between the problems and the solutions are only notional. Pick a topic—job creation, fiscal solvency for state and local governments, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Egypt, China’s recent truculence, income inequality, immigration—you name it. Same story.

... January 31, 2014 at 2:32 pm

No comments on the President’s plans to help the LTUEs? I had an immediate reaction to it but I’m wondering what cooler heads thought.

... January 31, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Never mind. I see Obama himself pushed that aside to talk about racist cops or getting stoned or something. Good to know where the priorities lie.

But it was (is) a stupid plan in any event, because even if the LTUEs start getting hired, there still aren’t enough jobs for all the people that want them. He’s going to replace one set of LTUEs with another. That’s good for the current batch of LTUEs, of course, but doesn’t actually address the root problem, which is that there aren’t enough jobs to go around.

It’s also possible that the big corporations jumping on board will be using this as another way of reducing their full-time workforce by hiring more part-timers. Again, good for the people getting hired, but hardly what people want and need for their working life.

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