The spring legislative session is wrapping up and once again lawsuit reform legislation has been left to wither on the vine.
Instead of implementing meaning lawsuit reforms and other pro-jobs initiatives, Illinois lawmakers are debating whether or not to make the 67 percent income tax hike permanent. Contrast this to states such as Wisconsin and Indiana. These states have all made lawsuit reform a priority in an effort to make their states more competitive and more attractive to prospective employers and instead of raising taxes, surrounding states are returning a cash surplus back to taxpayers.
Wisconsin has cut taxes by more than $500 million. In Missouri, lawmakers there approved tax cuts that depending on state revenues could return as much as $620 million annually back taxpayers. Indiana just put their corporate income tax on a reduction scale which means their corporate income tax will be at 4.9 percent when it is fully implemented.
Indiana also cut the individual tax rate and by 2017, the Indiana individual tax rate is scheduled to go down to 3.23 percent. By implementing lawsuit reforms and creating a climate for job growth and job creation, surrounding states are in a position to cut taxes.
It is a much different story in Illinois. The state has about $6 billion in unpaid bills and the unemployment rate in Illinois is the nation’s third highest. A recently released Gallup poll asked participants if they trusted their state government to solve their state’s problems. Illinois came in dead last as only 28 percent of Illinoisans trust their state government “a great deal,” or “a fair amount.”
According to another Gallup survey, half of all Illinoisans would leave the state if they could. This would explain why in the last few years, 40 Illinois companies have moved all or part of their operations to Indiana. These Illinois companies have created more than 3,600 new jobs in Indiana. To put this number into perspective, Illinois lost 6,800 jobs just last month alone. Illinois certainly could use the 3,600 jobs Illinois employers have hired in Indiana.
Chief Executive Magazine just ranked Illinois the worst state in the county for business. One CEO cited in the survey, noted that, “Illinois is a horrendous state in which to do business. It is governed by a class of incompetent, corrupt politicians. It's like doing business in a Third World country."
The respected research company Harris Interactive has ranked Illinois the fifth-worst state in the country for legal fairness. There is a correlation between the jobs climate and the legal climate. The Land of Lincoln should be a destination for jobs and opportunities, but sadly our legislative leaders continue to ignore the need for lawsuit reform and other needed reforms to improve the state’s jobs climate. It is time to change the narrative in Illinois. If Illinois’ economy is growing to grow; the leaders in the House and Senate need to follow the lead of surrounding states and make lawsuit reform a priority.
Travis Akin is Executive Director of Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch, a grassroots watchdog group of concerned citizens, community leaders and small business people dedicated to educating the public about the widespread costs of lawsuit abuse. I-LAW has more than 15,000 supporters throughout Illinois. Anyone interested in becoming a supporter of I-LAW or learning more about stopping lawsuit abuse in Illinois can visit www.ILLawsuitAbuseWatch.org