It is no secret that Illinois needs jobs.
Last year, Illinois ranked first in outbound moves, according to statistics from the professional moving company, Allied Van Lines. In addition, Illinois ranked dead last in the Midwest for new payroll jobs added to the economy in 2014 while Iowa ranked 14th and Wisconsin 20th, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Illinois also has had the slowest recovery from the Great Recession compared to other states.
Why are people leaving Illinois? Why is Illinois trailing other states (much smaller states) in new payroll jobs? What is hindering the state’s recovery from the Great Recession?
The basic difference between Illinois and other states ultimately comes down to a difference in economic policies. Surrounding states such as Wisconsin and Indiana have lowered taxes, streamlined business regulations and implemented meaningful lawsuit reforms, while Illinois has doubled down on higher taxes, more regulations and refused to pass any lawsuit reform initiatives.
Since taking office, Governor Bruce Rauner has advocated a change in course designed to bring more jobs and opportunities to our state. One of the ways he proposes to do this is to implement lawsuit reforms including reasonable venue reforms, joint and several liability reforms, and a Constitutional Amendment to cap unreasonable judgments and settlements. He also is pushing for a better way to select judges in Illinois.
The Governor understands that Illinois ranks 46th out of 50 states for legal fairness, according to a recent survey from the respected Harris polling company and is home to Madison County, the nation’s fifth-worst “Judicial Hellhole,” according to a recent report from the American Tort Reform Foundation.
Implementing lawsuit reform in Illinois could increase the state’s employment by 1-2.5 percent, according to the 2011 report Creating Conditions for Economic Growth: The role of the legal environment from NERA Economic Consulting. Based on the size of the Illinois economy, these reforms could save businesses up to $2.4 billion and could lead to up to 147,000 new jobs. Instead of moving vans leaving Illinois, the moving vans could be headed to Illinois for new jobs and new opportunities.
The policies of the past are clearly not working. Doubling down on high taxes and over regulation has only succeeded in making Illinois home to one of the weakest recoveries from the Great Recession. It is time to change course.
Our state’s economy will continue to flounder as long as our state leaders fail to deliver on meaningful common sense policy changes, such as lawsuit reform, that will make Illinois more competitive. It is time Illinois followed the lead of surrounding states and make lawsuit reform a priority, so we can get back to creating jobs and restore Illinois as the economic engine of the Midwest.
David From is Illinois State Director for Americans for Prosperity.