Rauner sees Illinois business flooding to border states to escape high taxes
Illinois must improve its economic climate to foster small businesses or it will lose more of its tax base and people to neighboring states, Gov. Bruce Rauner said at a recent press conference.
“This is critically important," he said. "Whether we’re talking about an unbalanced budget or needing to properly fund our schools and our human services – which we absolutely have to do – these are not just sound bites for the media. This is not just a political fight. This is about people’s lives.”
Illinois had the weakest business growth in the region in 2016, with border areas like the Metro East particularly prone to a loss of people and business.
Almost every Metro East county saw its population decline between July 2015 and July 2016. The two hardest hit counties, St. Clair and Madison, combined for a loss of more than 1,600 people: St. Clair County lost 1,320 and Madison lost 312. In the same period, surrounding Missouri counties welcomed more than 6,000 new residents.
Between 2006 and 2015, Illinois lost almost 73,000 residents in total to Missouri.
When businesses leave, people leave, and the tax base shrinks, Rauner said.
“These guys are the tax base," he said. "These guys create the jobs and pay the taxes that support our government, our human services (and) our schools. If they can’t make it, (and) if they can’t compete because the environment here in Illinois is not attractive and competitive, we won’t have a good future for the people of Illinois, and we will never have balanced budgets in the future."
High property taxes are the biggest obstacle to business retention and growth, Rauner said.
“That makes it unaffordable to compete here,” Rauner said. “That forces (businesses) to have higher prices to cover the high property taxes here. Customers can go across the border and have cheaper costs in large part because the property taxes are cheaper.”
Without a healthy and competitive business culture, the state will continue to lose businesses and people, Rauner warned.
“We’re not competitive, and as a result, our tax base erodes, and we don’t have the tax revenue to support a balanced budget and to fund our schools and human services,” Rauner said. “This is the challenge. We have to become competitive so we can afford to become compassionate.”
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