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A Publication of WTVP

Illinois’ job growth numbers are dismally low, as our state continues to rank the sixth worst in the nation in job creation— well behind our neighboring states.

The latest figures from the United States Department of Labor show that Illinois ranked 45th in job creation for the period from January 2003 to September 2007. During that time, Illinois saw a 2.4 percent increase in jobs, while the national average was six percent. Not so coincidentally, January 2003 was the start of the Blagojevich administration and its tax-and-spend approach to government.

Sir Winston Churchill once noted “that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” Unfortunately, the current governor has consistently tried to tax his way out of a bad budget situation—which only hurts business and threatens jobs.

Illinois employers and the jobs they provide have long been the target of Blagojevich and his budgeters. In his first year, Blagojevich raised 300 taxes and fees, sending jobs out of Illinois and into other states. I have stood strongly against the governor’s many attempts to tax business, especially this year’s gross receipts tax—the largest tax increase in state history—and the healthcare payroll tax.

And we can’t try to explain Illinois’ lackluster performance on regional pressures. Iowa continues to lead the region in job growth, with a 5.8 percent rate. Missouri followed with a 4.2 percent increase in jobs from January 2003 to September 2007. Wisconsin has increased jobs at the rate of 3.9 percent, while Kentucky has a 3.8 percent rate and Indiana has seen a 2.9 percent increase.

Illinois’ slow growth rate is also below most other large states, including Florida (14.6 percent); Texas (9.9 percent); California (5.9 percent); New York (3.3 percent) and Pennsylvania (3.2 percent). Nationally, Nevada leads the nation with a 21.6 percent rate of job growth.

Had Illinois kept pace with the national average, the state would have more than 211,000 additional jobs, which would have resulted in nearly $550 million in additional sales and income tax revenues.

Strong economic and job growth would be a better solution to Illinois’ budget woes than record tax increases. Senate Republicans are working for business, jobs and economic development.

We also think state government’s role should be one of assistance, not interference. We need to take care of the things the government should take care of, such as funding for education and a capital construction bill to build roads, schools and mass transit. We must not increase the financial pressure on the citizens and businesses who pay the taxes which fund so many state programs. Our financial woes result from a decrease in state employment and an increase in people needing state services. Our solution must focus on job growth.

Even more importantly, the time for political gamesmanship, smoke-and-mirrors and “borrowing from Peter to pay Paul” is long past. Key to our success is a spirit of cooperation and striving for the common good. We must work together to find real solutions to the issues facing us all. IBI

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