Political performers and placeholders; The Illinois Report Card (Part 2)

Originally posted 4-28-10.

Not enough people are hearing the facts about the problems caused by too much government. Not enough of our fellow citizens are being won over to support the needed changes. It’s going to require an enormous effort and many thousands of people doing constructive political work if Illinois—and the nation—are to be turned around.

There is no shortage of political performers here in Illinois – speech-givers who wind up impacting only a tiny portion of the population. Many of these travelling policy carnival barker types suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a malady I wrote about back in January. They assume once their wonderful self arrives on the scene, all will improve. When it doesn’t, they never really understand why.

These folks can be fun to listen to, but unfortunately they detract from what needs to be the real focus—utilizing all methods to reach voters where they live with persuasive information.

We also don’t lack for political placeholders in Illinois politics. They’re the types who have the ability to get themselves elected/reelected or hired/rehired to important posts but frankly not much else.

If that sounds too harsh—explain how it is that we can have centuries of combined experience on the Republican side in Illinois politics and have a report card like the one below.

From the Illinois Senate Republicans:

Illinois Report Card: The Race to the Bottom (Part 2)

Jobs and Economy = F

Jobs Disappearing

Illinois ranks 47th in the nation in the rate of job growth since Democrats took control of state government in January of 2003. In December, 16,300 jobs disappeared, increasing the jobless rate to 11.1% – placing Illinois among the top 10 states with the highest unemployment rate.[i]

  • Illinois is facing its highest unemployment rate in 26 years and has not seen an over-the-month employment gain in two years.
  • Illinois lost 70,900 manufacturing jobs in 2009.[ii]  In addition, according to the Illinois Manufacturers Directory, 709 manufacturing businesses have moved out-of-state, out-of-country, or have gone out-of-business in 2009.[iii]
  • Illinois has lost 237,300 jobs over the last year alone (December 2008 – December 2009). Only two states lost more jobs over the last year – Texas (276,000), and California (579,400).

If Illinois had grown jobs at the national average over the last 10 years we would have 522,000 more jobs today, which would translate into an additional $1.5 billion in annual revenues to the state.

Business Climate

  • Employers just do not want to do business in Illinois. The 2010 nonpartisan Tax Foundation’s business climate index ranked Illinois 30th among all states. This is a seven-slot drop from last year alone.[iv] Companies that are looking to locate or expand will go somewhere else. This means fewer job opportunities for people in Illinois.
  • The American Legislative Exchange Council ranked Illinois’ economic outlook at 44th. Illinois ranks lower than every border state.[v]
  • Illinois has the 5th worst legal climate for businesses in the nation, according to the Institute for Legal Reform.[vi] A survey of Illinois business executives revealed that 89% say the number of frivolous lawsuits is a serious problem. Greater than one out of every two executives has made a business decision primarily to avoid a lawsuit in Illinois.[vii]
  • Illinois also does not rank well on regulatory policies, including labor laws, health regulations, the tort system and other business regulations. Our policies land us at 25th, according to a recent university study.[viii]

Our High Taxes

  • Illinois has the 6th highest sales tax rate in the country, based on a national study of average combined state and local rates.[ix] Even with the recent reduction in Cook County’s sales tax rate, the combined Chicago rate of 9.75% still is one of the highest in the nation.
  • Property taxes in Illinois are 19% higher than the national average. The middle 60% of taxpayers in Illinois pay combined taxes (state, local and federal) equal to almost 10% of their income, higher than the national average. Illinois is considered one of the top 10 most regressive taxing states, putting a higher burden on low and moderate income taxpayers, according to a national study.[x]

Where Is Everybody Going?

  • Between 1998 and 2007, Illinois ranked 3rd highest in the nation in the number of residents leaving the state (domestic migration), losing 735,768 citizens to other states. Even though overall population has increased due to births, for every 100 people that move across the Illinois border, 58 are leaving and 42 are entering.[xi]
  • Between April 2000 and July 2008, the population in Cook County declined at a rate of -1.5%.[xii] There has been a net migration of people out of Chicago for the last seven years.
  • According to Forbes, high taxes, rising unemployment and corruption have made the City of Chicago the third “most miserable” city in America.[xiii]

Poverty Rising

Our state’s poverty level was 10.7% in 2000 and has increased to 12.2% as of 2008. This means that approximately 1.5 million Illinois residents are living in poverty.[xiv]

  • Poverty in Illinois statewide increased by 27% since 2007, according to one estimate.[xv] Unfortunately, these estimates only take the beginning of the recession into account. Today’s poverty numbers are undoubtedly much worse.
  • The number of people falling into poverty in the Chicago suburbs increased by an astounding 47% between 2000 and 2008, according to the Brookings Institute. This 47% spike represents more than 170,000 new poor suburban residents.[xvi]
  • Greater Chicago area food pantry visits have increased by 48% from last year. In 2007, there were 2.9 million visits. The number shot up to 4.3 million in 2009.[xvii]

Incomes Dropping

Money in people’s pockets in Illinois has dramatically declined over the last decade. Average family income (mean household, in current dollars) in Illinois was $72,000 in 2000. This has decreased by a whopping $7,000, or 10%, dropping to $65,000 in 2008.[xviii] Again, these data only capture the beginning of the recession. (See below.) Income is expected to drop even further.

  • Since 2000, Cook County residents have seen a decrease of $4,600, or 8%, and residents of the collar counties lost an average $7,000, or 9%.[xix]
  • DuPage County families have lost the most earnings in the state. Income has declined by $11,000 since 2000, from $84,500 to $73,500.[xx]

Home Foreclosures Rising

Illinois accounts for the 4th highest number of foreclosure filings in the nation. A total of 131,132 homes, or one in every 40, received a foreclosure filing in 2009, an increase of 32% from 2008.[xxi]

  • Illinois, when combined with California, Florida, and Michigan, is responsible for more than half of the entire nation’s foreclosures.[xxii]

Personal Freedom

Illinois residents live in one of the worst states for “personal freedom,” according to a recent university study.[xxiii] Our state ranks 49th in personal freedom, which encompasses laws directly affecting individuals, such as gun control and education.


[i] United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Podmolik, Mary Ellen, “Illinois Loses 709 Manufacturers in 2009,” The Chicago Tribune, January 11,2009.

[iv] Padgit, Kail. 2009. “2010 State Business Tax Climate Index.” The Tax Foundation. September, 2009.

[v] Laffer, Arthur, Moore, Stephen, and Jonathan Williams.  2009. “State Winners and Losers.” American Legislative Exchange Council, 2nd Edition.

[vi] U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 2008 State Liability Systems Ranking Study.  Institute for Legal Reform. <http://www.instituteforlegalreform.com/component/ilr_states/18/state/IL.html>.

[vii] U.S. Chamber of Comerce. Key finding from a Survey of Illinois Business Decision Makers Regarding Perceptions of Lawsuits. April, 2008. <http://www.instituteforlegalreform.com/states/2008/pdf/ILbusinessKeyFindingsFinal.pdf>.

[viii] Study by George Mason University, February 2009

[vix]Fiscal Fact” report of the Tax Foundation, October 2009. Available online at:

<http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/ff196.pdf>

[x] Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States,” a report of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, November 2009. Available online at: www.itepnet.org/whopays3.pdf

[xi] Laffer, Arthur, Moore, Stephen, and Jonathan Williams. 2009. “State Winners and Losers.” American Legislative Exchange Council, 2nd Edition.

[xii] Illinois Policy Institute. “Key Facts about Cook County: Why the Second Largest County in America faces a Declining Population.” < http://www.illinoispolicy.org/news/article.asp?ArticleSource=1213>

[xiii] Badenhausen, Kurt, “America’s Most Miserable Cities,” Forbes, February 2, 2009.

[xiv] Associated Press, “Data Shows More Illinois Residents Live in Poverty,” Daily Herald, September 30, 2009.

[xv] Terpstra, A. and A. Rynell. “2009 Report on Illinois Poverty.” Chicago: Heartland Alliance Mid-America Institute on Poverty. 

[xvi]Knowles, Francine, “Poor in Suburbs up 47%,” Chicago Sun-Times, January 21, 2010.

[xvii] Associated Press, “Data Shows More Ill. Residents Live in Poverty,” Daily Herald, December 15, 2009.

[xviii] Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. Income as of March in current and 2008 CPI-U-RS.

[xix] Terpstra, A. and A. Rynell.  2009. “Report on Chicago Region Poverty.” Chicago: Heartland Alliance Mid-America Institute on Poverty.  

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] RealtyTrac Inc., “Year-End Report Shows Record 2.8 Million U.S. Properties With Foreclosure Filings in 2009.” January 14, 2009.

[xxii] Tribune Staff Report, “Illinois Among Leaders in 2009 Foreclosures,” The Chicago Tribune, January 14, 2009.

[xxiii] Study by George Mason University, February 2009

This Report Card prepared by the Illinois Senate Republicans should be read by more people. Please help spread the word.

Up next: Part 3.

©2010 John Francis Biver