From Illinois Policy April 2017
Illinois is a state that could have it all.
The Land of Lincoln has economic potential growing from its farmlands and churning from its factories, in its suburban corporate headquarters and downtown tech start-ups.
But the state’s economic engine is choking on a host of tax and economic policies that squash job opportunities.
Illinois’ potential can be unlocked. The key to unleashing job growth and shared prosperity is for policy makers to apply the economic good judgment that prevails in Illinois households. But instead, governments in Illinois are too much in the business of doing things that don’t make sense – writing more rules, enacting higher taxes, and gumming up the wheels of progress with reams of red tape.
A dose of common sense is needed. Lawmakers should recognize the wounds that Illinois has suffered as largely self-inflicted by the state legislature. The magnitude of these errors must be recognized.
The solution is to enact sound policies that prime the pump for growth. Only then can Illinois’ economy produce the good jobs and rising incomes that result in shared prosperity. Illinois families will be rewarded for their hard work after lawmakers clear the way for economic success.
The purpose of my column and work at the Illinois Policy Institute is to recognize these economic afflictions and to propose solutions.
As Vice President of Policy, I focus on unraveling the economic stagnation that has hurt so many Illinois families, and advancing an understanding of the solutions that will lead to better growth. In the past, I’ve been an educator in South Korea and in South Shore, and a financier in Chicago’s trading markets. My passion is for applying education and economic understanding to transform human potential into flourishing prosperity.
I’ve traveled the world, and am fascinated by economic policy – what works and what hurts a local, regional or national economy.
What I see in Illinois is baffling. All of the necessary elements for success are here.
Illinois should be a target for long-term investments by families looking to lay down roots and businesses seeking to build new facilities. So why isn’t the Land of Lincoln bursting at the seams with growth? Well, it’s certainly not for a lack of natural advantages.
Deep, rich soils make Illinois’ agriculture the envy of the world. And a central location in the United States with access to rivers, lakes, trains and airports make Illinois a natural transportation hub.
The state’s industrial backbone is plugged into the nation’s central transportation network, allowing producers to bring farm goods and manufactured products to international markets.
Chicago’s bustling business core and diversified service sector continue to attract talent and innovation. The great city on Lake Michigan’s shores has built-in advantages as the Midwest’s capital and global hub.
Yet, Illinois doesn’t thrive. Instead, the Land of Lincoln is the sick-man economy of the Midwest. People vote with their feet and leave the state at startling rates. Business leaders compare Illinois to a third-world country.
Illinois is thwarted by human error. The state will succeed if a sound approach is taken to government finances and economic growth. But without a change in course, the state will continue to recede.
Economic opportunity speaks loudly and families and businesses hear its call. That’s the story I intend to tell through this column each Wednesday in the weeks ahead. Illinois didn’t become an economic basket case overnight, and it won’t be fixed in a day either.
Illinois needs light shined on its economic strategies to disinfect it from the mistakes of the past and point the way to a stronger future. The goal of this column is to be one such light.
It’s time for a new chapter in the story of this great state. Illinois’ future should be full of dynamic growth, optimism, and the rewarding sense of a job well done that is the consequence of economic opportunity.