Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is making it harder for small businesses in the Prairie State to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the state’s problems can be traced to his administration’s policies that stifle commerce and innovation. Even the most optimistic reports concede that Illinois is increasingly becoming uncompetitive with its neighbors – losing residents in droves as it fails to build new industries and attract top talent.
As a proud employer and resident of Illinois, I can confidently say the sharp increase in the cost of doing business is a significant factor.
When a government implements numerous policies that raise the price of doing business, economists call it “stacked costs.” For those of you keeping score at home, Gov. Pritzker has stacked our state into the third most regulated in the country. Unfortunately for us regular folks, it seems the governor aspires to reach first in those rankings by year’s end.
Let’s start with the right-to-work (RTW) ban that the governor and General Assembly voted to put on the November ballot.
There’s still a great deal of debate nationally around RTW legislation, but one thing that’s crystal clear is that when a state bans it, jobs are lost, and its economy suffers. That’s because if implemented, it would surely mean more expensive union labor with no alternatives for most industries. That’s not just going to be bad for employers like me; it will be bad for workers who will see fewer job openings and bad for consumers who will pay more for essential goods and services.
It’s hard to fathom how any competent official could endorse raising the cost of labor at the same time inflation has reached record levels, but Gov. Pritzker has never seemed to grasp the concept of “cause-and-effect.”
Sadly, his administration is doing enough damage on its own that it may not even matter how the RTW vote goes.
The state of Illinois applied over $650 million in new taxes on businesses last year that drew scorn from voices across the political spectrum. Actions like raising the gas tax can increase revenue for the state, but the scope of stacked costs coupled with supply chain issues and inflation has meant the governor’s new revenue stream isn’t anywhere near what he had hoped. Those tax burdens played a significant role in the state being one of the top exporters of residents in the nation, erasing over $31 billion from our economy.
This isn’t a partisan issue either. Just look at our neighbors across the lake.
Bloomberg recently wrote a piece highlighting that Michigan (a right-to-work state with a Democratic governor) had the most significant economic recovery from COVID in the nation. That doesn’t mean they don’t share some of the same problems, but their commitment to creating an affordable market has worked well. There’s no reason we can’t do that here.
I can’t put the entire blame on Gov. Pritzker for this mess. Our state legislature is just as culpable in the demise of our economy. But while they can’t take back the damage they’ve done, they still have a chance to right the ship. Protect RTW, lower the tax burden on residents and businesses, protect businesses from frivolous lawsuits, and refine social spending to optimize efficiency.
Let’s hope our leaders reduce these stacked costs soon. Further delay could flatten our state’s future.
This article was originally posted on Gov. Pritzker, legislative leaders must start helping state’s job creators