Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is touting policies he said are helping grow the state's economy, but an opponent of his progressive income tax proposal said it’s more important to highlight what the governor hasn't said.
At a tourism meeting in Oak Lawn on Wednesday, Pritzker talked about the first nine months of his administration. He said his administration was able to cut the franchise fee for around 300,000 businesses.
“Mostly small businesses and overall we cut taxes on businesses by more than $250 million,” Pritzker said.
He also highlighted a loan fund for minority-owned businesses, tax credits for the data center industry, research and development tax credits and other policies he said are boosting business activity in Illinois. He said his administration is reprioritizing training dollars to focus on developing the state’s workforce to fill the jobs of the future.
“Nobody talks about that,” Pritzker said. “Everybody likes to talk about the shining objects, the other things we got done, but we’re helping build businesses."
Ideas Illinois CEO Greg Baise praised what he said were good policies, but said the governor wasn't talking about cutting state spending.
“[Illinois] has a systemic $7 billion debt, meaning we’re spending $7 billion more than we’re taking in,” Baise said. “The only way we’re able to finance that is that we delay the payment of bills… No discussion whatsoever of trying to slow down the runaway freight train called our pension system.”
Illinois’ unfunded pension liability has been estimated to range from $134 billion to more than $200 billion, depending on assumptions and what liabilities and other factors are included.
Baise also said the governor has not proposed substantive solutions moving forward to lower the state’s high property taxes, something he said continues to push the middle class and job creators out of the state.
“Those are the kinds of ideas that we should be talking about instead of saying ‘oh let’s figure out a way to take more tax dollars out of the pockets of entrepreneurs and put it in the hands of government,” Baise said.
Pritzker signed legislation this summer to create the Property Tax Relief Task Force. That task force is expected to submit reports to the governor by the end of the year.
Baise said that Kiplinger, an economic forecasting magazine, recently ranked Illinois as the least tax-friendly state in the nation largely because of the state’s property taxes.