Contact: Cullen Werwie, 608-267-7303
Contrast Between Wisconsin and Illinois Remains Clear: Wisconsin is Open For Business
Madison– Yesterday, in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the Illinois Treasurer, Dan Rutherford, said that he would tell the financial industry that lending more money to the state of Illinois was a “major risk.” Rutherford went on to say that, “If I need to send letters to the rating companies to tell them the treasurer of Illinois is opposed to more borrowing, I’m going to do that.”
Rutherford’s comments are just the latest in a string of tough financial news for Illinois. In recent weeks the Wall Street Journal reported that Illinois was on track for an $8 billion shortfall. The Chicago Tribune reported that Governor Quinn is seeking to borrow $8.75 billion and that Illinois’ 67 percent income tax rate increase will not bring in enough money. The Associated Press reported that the state owes $4.5 billion to businesses and organizations that have done work for the state and it owes $1.2 billion for employee health insurance and owes $850 million in tax refunds.
Reuters wrote, “Illinois’ widening structural deficit, huge unfunded pension liability, inability to pay bills on time, cascading bond ratings, and its propensity to borrow its way out of financial problems have made the state a top concern in the $2.9 trillion U.S. municipal bond market.”
Two weeks ago, Wisconsin jumped 17 spots in the business rankings of Chief Executive Magazine. Wisconsin’s improvement is believed to be the greatest improvement in the history of the magazine. In contrast, Illinois has dropped 40 places in the rankings in the last 5 years, in what the magazine called a “death spiral.”
Since Governor Walker took office in January, he has worked diligently to improve Wisconsin’s business climate and grow jobs for the state. Within weeks the Wisconsin legislature passed and the Governor signed into law major pieces of legislation to improve the state’s legal environment, provide tax relief to small businesses, end the state tax on Health Savings Accounts, increase tax credits available for expanding and relocating businesses, and create the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), a public-private partnership focused on job creation.
Last week, the WEDC board held its first board meeting. Yesterday, the Governor signed legislation that reforms the regulatory process in the state to encourage job creation. Today the Governor is signing telecommunications legislation that will continue to improve the state’s job environment.
In the first four months of the year, the private sector in Wisconsin has added nearly 25,000 jobs, including 11,500 manufacturing jobs. The state recently had its bond rating affirmed without increasing taxes because of its fiscally responsible budget. Governor Walker’s proposed budget nearly eliminates the state’s $2 billion structural deficit and freezes property taxes for homeowners.
In January after Illinois passed its massive tax increase, Governor Walker warned, “Businesses make plans based not just on what’s happening today, but on what they see happening in the future. The contrast between Wisconsin’s trend line and Illinois’ could not be greater. We’re not only lowering taxes, we’re reforming the regulatory and litigation climate; Illinois is heading in the opposite direction.”
Today, Governor Walker continues to encourage Illinois businesses to Escape to Wisconsin.
“We are working hard to open Wisconsin for business and to encourage the private sector to grow jobs,” said Governor Walker. “We want businesses in Wisconsin, in Illinois and across the country to know that they are welcome here. Job creators should know that our state is putting our fiscal house in order now to encourage long-term economic growth.”