Chief Executive Magazine just came out with a report ranking Illinois the third worst state in the nation for business. One CEO remarked, “Illinois continues to tax heavily and politicians continue to destroy opportunities for employees and businesses. It’s a terrible combination, which leads to the exodus we see in both families and businesses.”
WalletHub.com recently ranked Illinois the worst taxed state in the country. According to the report Illinois has the highest combination of state and local taxes in the country.
The result is people are leaving Illinois in droves. According to a report last January from United Van Lines, the Land of Lincoln was third on the list of states people are leaving. Only New York and New Jersey ranked higher on this list.
It is time to change course. The state Chief Executive Magazine recognizes as the state with the best climate for business is Texas. The secret for the success in Texas? Former Governor Rick Perry said, “Our formula for success is simple, keep taxes low, implement smart regulations, provide an educated workforce and stop lawsuit abuse at the courthouse.”
We know what works and what does not work. The Illinois way of ignoring lawsuit reform, doubling down on tax increases and the over regulation of businesses is driving jobs and opportunities away from Illinois. The 6.6 percent unemployment rate in Illinois is tied for the worst unemployment rate in the nation.
The inaction on lawsuit reform is costing us jobs and opportunities. According to the recently released 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey, conducted by Harris Poll, Illinois ranks near the bottom of the nation in terms of its lawsuit environment – 48th worst of the 50 states. More than 75 percent of the business leaders surveyed by Harris Poll for this report said lawsuit climate is a “significant factor” in determining where to expand and grow. Illinois needs jobs – not more lawsuits.
The solution is lawsuit reform. Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed common sense lawsuit reform legislation that includes a proposal that will stop personal injury lawyers from shopping around for the friendliest court jurisdiction, even if the lawsuit has nothing to do with that jurisdiction. This practice, often called ‘venue shopping,’ is all too common in Illinois.
It is just common sense to require lawsuits filed in Illinois to have an actual connection to Illinois, and yet in one Illinois county, more than 90 percent of the asbestos lawsuits filed there are for plaintiffs who do not live in that county.
The evidence is clear. Illinois lawmakers need to embrace the reforms Governor Rauner has proposed. Lawsuit reform needs to be part of any budget solution. We cannot afford to continue to ignore the need for lawsuit reform in Illinois.
Do we want Illinois to continue to eventually become the worst state for business or do we want to see Illinois become a destination for jobs and opportunities?
If we keep the same course, Illinois will become the highest taxed state and the worst state for business. This is the ultimate destination of the current policies in Springfield. But if we change course, enact meaningful lawsuit reforms we can and will turn Illinois around.
Illinoisans should contact their legislators and ask them if they will stand with the personal injury lawyers, who are the only ones who profit from this unfair system, or the small businesses and individual citizens who are far too frequently targets of unfair frivolous lawsuits and are made to pay for personal injury lawyer greed.
Illinois needs lawsuit reform now.
Travis Akin is Executive Director of Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch.