* Illinois Chamber President Doug Whitley gave Gov. Pat Quinn a C to a C+ grade for job creation policies so far. The governor took umbrage…
Quinn responded that he believed the United Auto Workers would give him an A thanks to his role in convincing Chrysler to bring 1,800 jobs to its Belvidere plant.
Point taken, but considering that Illinois is almost always portrayed as the worst state in the entire freaking universe, an average to slightly above average grade from the state Chamber leader is comparatively positive.
* What Whitley wants…
To that end, Whitley said that ahead of Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget address Wednesday, the Chamber of Commerce is highlighting five areas where the state needs to focus on making serious improvements. They include restoring fiscal integrity, reducing the cost of doing business, improving education and work force skills, investing in infrastructure and improving confidence in the state’s judiciary.
Thus far on making the necessary improvements, the Chamber’s leader gave Quinn a grade of ‘C,’ mainly because he said the jury is still out on the changes the governor has implemented. Yet he acknowledged Quinn has improved our situation in the last three years.
Whitley took a favorable view of reports that Quinn plans to call for a 9 percent cut in state spending over the coming year.
“I would think that would be significant,” he said. “If that’s what comes through, that would set the right tone.”
* But this is a recommendation too far…
Whitley did praise the governor for identifying economic development as a priority, and especially for putting renewed focus on generating more trade between Illinois and the rest of the world. But he says Quinn “gets a really low grade on fiscal policy.”
“The situation is not terribly different in Illinois than the situation in (debt-crippled) Greece,” Whitley said. “We are going to have to do things that aren’t terribly popular — but it’s the only way to turn this state around.”
Um, Doug, the Greek unemployment rate rose to almost 21 percent in November following months of severe austerity measures, according to the latest reports. Spanish unemployment is almost 23 percent after huge budget cuts. If Greece and Spain have taught the world anything, it’s that you can’t slash your way to prosperity.
Granted, cutting the Illinois budget by a similar amount would have a lesser impact on the economy than slashing a federal budget. But it’s still gonna hurt, and it’s a bit unseemly to be so glib about the coming cuts (which we’ll discuss in another post).