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Outdated and wrong numbers, but what else is new?

Thursday, Jan 27, 2011

* From a Daily Herald editorial

Illinois remains 48th in job creation while it wallows in a $13 billion deficit.

OK, first of all, that $13 billion figure is outdated because of the income tax increase. I wish people would stop using it. But facts always get in the way of long-established memes when you’re dealing with the mainstream media.

Second, I keep seeing this “48th in job creation” stat without a citation. Here are the actual numbers from the federal government of net jobs created between December, 2009 and December, 2010

According to this federal list, Illinois is third best overall with 46,300. What’s the worst? New Jersey, which lost 30,700 jobs.

* Speaking of New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie was on Larry Kudlow’s CNBC program yesterday and took more shots at Gov. Pat Quinn

“And so between me and Governor Quinn in Illinois, here’s the very simple difference: He’s raising taxes, I’m cutting them. And the promise I made to the business owners in Illinois is come to New Jersey, and for as long as I’m governor we’re not going to raise your taxes. If you stay in Illinois, you know for a certainty that Pat Quinn’s going to raise your taxes. Because what he’s done is made his bed with the public sector unions during the election campaign.”

Gov. Christie already did raise taxes. By getting rid of the state’s property tax rebate program, property taxes jumped almost 30 percent. And that doesn’t count the actual property tax increases to cover state cuts to education and local governments.

* Illinois Statehouse News has an excellent article knocking down all that silly national talk about allowing states to declare bankruptcy

In several reports by national media, Illinois has been used as an example of a state that could use a bankruptcy option because of its billions-dollar deficit.

But there are constitutional hurdles that would be hard to overcome, according to Douglas Baird, a law professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“A state may contract debt but, typically speaking, you can’t go to an Illinois court and sue the state of Illinois to collect the debt and you can’t go to federal court to sue a state and collect the debt because states have what’s called sovereign immunity,” Baird said.

Bankruptcy affords individuals and businesses a way to get out from under the debt they owe and, in some cases, reorganize that debt to remain in business. States don’t need that option because of sovereign immunity, Baird said.

“If you’re immune from suit, then you don’t need bankruptcy because your creditors can jump up and down but they’re not going to be able to do anything because they can’t seize your assets or do stuff like that anyway,” he said.

This immunity makes bankruptcy for states unnecessary, according to opponents of the plan.

Exactly. Move along.

* Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune engaged in more than a little revisionist history

Last March 24, the pols who run Illinois nearly ruptured multiple vertebrae by slapping themselves so enthusiastically on the back.

In one day they had rammed through the Illinois General Assembly a bill establishing scaled-down pension benefits for public employees — but only those hired in 2011 and later. This was the so-called major pension reform that had Gov. Pat Quinn and his budget director, David Vaught, bragging that they had saved taxpayers $200 billion over nearly 35 years. Why, they even estimated that Illinois could reduce $300 million to $1 billion from the state’s required pension contribution in the fiscal year that began July 1. House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton were thrilled too. Pension mess? Solved! Slap, slap.

Talk about hyperbole. Sheesh. Here’s what Illinois Chamber President Doug Whitley said as the pension reform bill was working its way through committee

If you can’t watch the video, Whitley called the pension reform legislation “the biggest thing that I’ve seen around here in years.”

* All that being said, there’s very little good news out there right now

Nearly 1,100 people turned out to apply for the 50 full-time jobs available at a Joliet distribution center.

The jobs with Central Grocers drew long lines of applicants interested in the positions, which are union jobs and pay benefits.

And

The foreclosure crisis is getting worse as high unemployment and lackluster job prospects force homeowners in an increasing number of U.S. metropolitan areas into dire financial straits. […]

In the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet metropolitan area, foreclosure activity rose 16 percent, while home repossessions climbed nearly 20 percent, RealtyTrac said.

And

Robertson was the lead author of a study published by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine that found that doctors who study in Illinois are fleeing the state in droves. Robertson is chairman of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Northwestern. […]

The study surveyed Illinois’ graduating residents and fellows, and sampled about 561 respondents, of a 1,738 total population size.

The primary reason for the exodus was overall practice opportunities; however, the medical malpractice liability environment was a major consideration, the study stated.

Sixty-seven percent of the study’s participants cited the medical malpractice liability environment in Illinois as a reason for leaving the state. There are no caps to the amount of money for which a physician can be sued, Robertson said.

* Related…

* Edgar: State needed a tax hike: Saying that Democrats have likely “used up all of their courage,” Edgar, who was governor from 1990 to 1998, said more efforts to cut spending and put the state on a “fiscal diet” will have to come from both sides of the aisle, along with cooperation from the governor’s office.

* State lawmakers grilled over income tax in Kane County: “You guys are one of hundreds of organizations that are screaming that we haven’t paid you,” said Chapa LaVia, of Aurora. “You’re just as important as our kids … as our veterans … just as important as all our vendors who haven’t gotten paid.”

* Some in Illinois GOP Want to Link Work Comp Reform, State Borrowing

* New-home sales in 2010 fall to lowest in 47 years: For December, sales rose in all parts of the country except the Northeast, which saw a 5 percent decline. Sales surged 71.9 percent in the West and were up 3.2 percent in the Midwest and 1.8 percent in the South.

* What happens at Mitsubishi has wide impact

* DuPage’s no-bid emergency radio contract with Motorola is in shambles

* IDOT top staffer canned; No. 2 director may retire

- Posted by Rich Miller        

32 Comments
  1. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 11:18 am:

    Did Pat Quinn step on Chris Christie’s dog or something? I have to say I can’t ever remember this kind of bizarre attempt to position a governor from one part of the country as savior by endlessly bashing another from a state almost 1000 miles away.

    It’s really bizarre behavior which is why NJ being worst in job creation and our being 3rd has just got to be so sweet for Pat. If that press office has half a clue, he’ll seize that today.


  2. - Anon - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 11:23 am:

    Has Christie really closed an 11 billion dollar budget gap? Every independent analysis I have read has said he has only cut a very small portion of the deficit.

    Why does no one call him out on this during his interviews?


  3. - Jo - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 11:24 am:

    CC -

    For the far right, bashing Illinois or Chicago is a surrogate for bashing the president, and thus burnishing your conservative credentials.


  4. - NJ - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 11:25 am:

    Let’s really tick Gov. Christie off and raise the tax rate on those making more than $500,000 a year!


  5. - irv & ashland - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 11:30 am:

    Rich,

    This graph of changes in unemployment by state is from Empty Wheel, of the Firedoglake blog/newssite. I thought you’d be interested:

    http://static1.firedoglake.com/28/files/2011/01/StateUnemployMaxDec2010.jpg


  6. - Ahoy - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 11:30 am:

    Rich,
    One of the situations for the “48th number” is from the 2010 Alec-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, they write “Rich States, Poor states.” They’re a little right wing, but they seem to judge everyone equally through their right wing lenses :)
    Anyway, they report that Illinois is 48th in non-farm payroll employment cumulative growth from 1998 – 2008. Weather these numbers are right or wrong, I don’t know. Obviously statistics are going to change dependent on numbers you use and the timeframe in which you use them. Rankings are also going to change dependent upon who is doing the ranking and what criteria they use. I believe what Illinois needs to do is look at our state, listen to our businesses and see if we have a good climate to create jobs in. We have many benefits, but we need to work on our weaknesses. We need to work on workers comp reform, lawsuit abuse reform and lowering the cost of doing business in this state. We also need Quinn and that guy from New Jersey to shut up and worry about his own state.


  7. - Bigtwich - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 11:33 am:

    == surveyed Illinois’ graduating residents and fellows ==

    Fleeing the state? But that’s what graduating residents and fellows do. Any change from prior years here?


  8. - Secret Square - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 11:33 am:

    I suspect the “really bizarre behavior” on Christie’s part is an attempt to play to the national GOP and conservative pundits, and to not be left out of the “let’s pile on Illinois” game that other GOP governors are playing.


  9. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 11:33 am:

    –According to this federal list, Illinois is third best overall with 46,300. What’s the worst? New Jersey, which lost 30,700 jobs. –

    I’ve read that 48th quote a million times. I’ve yet to see a rebuttal from the Quinn communications team.

    Let’s see, how can the professional doomsayers spin this? I got it — those are all jobs at U-Haul distributors, renting trucks for all the businesses leaving for New Jersey.

    Gov. Christie talks trash about Quinn every day now — way too much. Maybe he has a secret man-crush or something and is trying to get Quinn’s attention.

    There’s financial weirdness all over. The richest county in New York — Nassau on Long Island — just got taken over by a state financial oversight board. They’re in trouble because they’ve been borrowing money to give property tax rebates!


  10. - Solomon - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 11:52 am:

    Personally I’ve always found economic data from any source to be completely suspect. Unemployment figures are always skewed by “people who are looking for work,” jobs created by the Stimulus Bill proved to be completely inflated…

    Lies, damned lies, statistics, etc.


  11. - lincoln's beard - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 11:53 am:

    Don’t we have some of the nation’s best schools of medicine here, attracting students from all across the globe? Why wouldn’t we expect a big percentage of these students to leave after graduation?


  12. - Pat Robertson - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 11:55 am:

    I’m sure Baird mentioned that states have, by statute, waived sovereign immunity in many areas, and some might arguably apply here. So it’s not open-and-shut, especially if the lawsuit involves reneging on pension rights, which would affect the judge’s pocket. Somehow, despite sovereign immunity, the judges got their COLAs a couple of years ago, remember?

    Also, sovereign immunity doesn’t protect from 42 USC Section 1983 suits for violations of federal constitutional rights, which are technically brought against the individual enforcing (or failing to enforce) the law. That section has been held to allow recoveries of state taxes that violated the commerce clause, and so could apply to impairment of contracts clause violations. Plus it allows recoveries of attorneys’ fees, which is a good way to get a lawyer to represent you.


  13. - Nuance - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 12:05 pm:

    I assume when they say 48th they must be referring to the rate of growth (new jobs / 2009 job count) not the total number of new jobs added. If so, it may be an accurate statement and would be a fair comparison.

    Based on the rate of growth of the states shown on the chart, only New Jersey has a worse rate of growth than Illinois.


  14. - chi - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 12:11 pm:

    =jobs created by the Stimulus Bill proved to be completely inflated…=

    How are you proving this when you don’t believe in economic data? How would you propose governments make decisions? Magic 8-ball?


  15. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 12:12 pm:

    What Christie is doing is working voters in New Jersey. He has to keep telling them that his way to fixing the state’s mess is better than the alternative. Christie is aware of his precarious political position and has to continually assure NJ voters who are waiting for daylight to appear over Trenton.

    Like it or not, Illinois is going to be used as a poster child by conservative politicians using it as Arizona has been used by liberal politicians.

    Christie is not alone. Illinois has become a symbol of corrupt bad government. Only time, not arguments will end it.

    Ask Arizona how it feels.


  16. - irv & ashland - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 12:14 pm:

    >Lies, damned lies, statistics, etc.

    Solomon, I question your wisdom.

    A more perceptive proverb is the economist’s dictum “it’s possible to lie with statistics, but it’s much easier to lie without them.”

    You’ve seen the stats. Tell us what’s being misinterpreted. Simply waving them away, as you’ve done, is a much bigger lie.


  17. - Jo - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 12:16 pm:

    I am pretty sure more people use, and always will use, New Jersey as a poster child and a piñata of what not to do than Illinois.

    “New Jerrrseyyy!” - SNL


  18. - Linus - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 12:20 pm:

    It’s good to see the actual facts on job-creation numbers. And speaking of state rankings, here are stats showing Illinois to be the nation’s 6th-lowest state in per-capita spending:

    http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparetable.jsp?ind=32&cat=1&sub=10&yr=176&typ=4&sort=a

    So much for our spending being “out of control.”

    We should always aim for maximum (and sensible) efficiencies in government. But, as much as it might go against the grain of popular opinion, Illinois already is pretty lean.

    Compare us with MW neighbors Wisconsin (13th-highest level of spending), Minnesota, Iowa and Kentucky (21st- through 23rd-highest).


  19. - Nuance - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 12:21 pm:

    I should have also said that rate of growth of jobs in a state is more important than total new jobs created. Assuming death and birth rates across states are nearly the same, a state with a lower rate of growth will have fewer jobs available for its residents over time compared to states with higher rates of job growth. Of course, just stating the obvious.


  20. - Secret Square - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 12:32 pm:

    Another important point: before the tax hike Illinois had the LOWEST income tax rate of all among those which have flat tax rates. Even now, our individual income tax rate is somewhere in the middle of the states. Whereas NJ had (and still has) significantly higher rates, combined with sky high property taxes. They had far less wiggle room left with regard to taxes than we did.

    I hate to use this analogy because I don’t want it to be construed as an attack on either man’s physical appearance, plus I have a weight problem myself.


  21. - D.P. Gumby - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 1:17 pm:

    Don’t forget that Illinois is also the home state of the Gov that Christie defeated. The incumbent who called a fat man fat. So in addition to all the motives already mentioned, this is just another way of getting his own back.


  22. - Ghost - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 1:31 pm:

    === “A state may contract debt but, typically speaking, you can’t go to an Illinois court and sue the state of Illinois…====

    That is inccorect. And from a U of I law professor!!

    Illinois consitution ABOLISHED its soverieng immunity, accept as the legislature establishes it by law. The legislature established state law suit immunity, BUT it created the Court of Claims which allows individuals who are owed money by te State to sue for the money owed.


  23. - Leave a light on George - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 1:36 pm:

    * IDOT top staffer canned; No. 2 director may retire

    Another opportunity at fumigation missed.


  24. - Ahoy - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 1:38 pm:

    Linus,

    Please realize that state spending is not an apple to apples comparison. While spending per capita is the best measuring stick, it’s still flawed because it does not take into consideration of how government’s fund education (state vs local taxes) and how money is appropriated to other local governments.


  25. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 1:40 pm:

    Ghost, you disproved your own comment. The court of claims is not just any old court. There are special rules. And even if you win, the General Assembly has to then appropriate the cash.


  26. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 1:53 pm:

    People who like Obama or have to hold their noses voting for him would love Christie trying to emerge in national politics. Job loss, massive property tax increases and he’s making a move on Illinois? What’s the point of his making a hypocritical fool of himself like this? And furthermore, though Illinois has it’s share of major problems, at least our leaders know better than to throw stones.


  27. - Obamas Puppy - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 2:01 pm:

    Chris Christie is now qualified to be a talking head on FOX news once he gets sent packing by the voters of New Jersey. Cant wait for his speech at the Republican national convention and his demonization of all labor unions. I am sure it will be a great moment in American speech making. He might as well say “we must not stop until teachers define the working poor, police and firefighters work until they are 75, and people should have to pay the government to have the right to become a public employee. What a deusche.


  28. - jerry 101 - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 2:11 pm:

    Not only has Illinois created 46,000 jobs (vs New Jersey’s 31,000 lost jobs) over the past year, the stats show that the unemployment rate in Illinois is down 1.7 percentage points year over year (4th best, after Michigan, Alabama and the District of Columbia - DC and Michigan were hurting a lot more than Illinois, at that), New Jersey has only reduced its unemployment rate by .9 percentage points (note - Illinois’ total civilian workforce grew, year over year, by about 100k. New Jersey’s total civilian workforce shrank by 40,000, which must be how a state can lose 30,000 jobs and reduce its unemployment rate by 9/10ths of a percentage point).

    Someone should tell Chris Christie that he’s not running against Pat Quinn in any races. He sounds like an idiot screeching about Pat Quinn.

    Even the Governor’s of Wisconsin and Indiana (who is also reportedly gearing up for a run at the White House) seem to have shut their respective pie holes.

    Why would anyone want to leave Illinois for New Jersey? It’s freaking New Jersey. It’s like Northwest Indiana without the charm.


  29. - "Old Timer Dem" - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 2:31 pm:

    I saw Christie on Kudlow yesterday. He was calling Quinn out to put it mildly. He can’t wait to verbally spar with him. Can you blame him?


  30. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 2:34 pm:

    Interesting story today in NYT on Moody’s re-examining states’ indebtedness by adding in pension liabilities.

    Obviously, considering how we’ve kicked the can down the road by blowing off pension contributions, Illinois doesn’t come out smelling like a rose. But guess who really stinks?

    –After adding up the values of each state’s bonds and its unfunded pensions, Moody’s compared the totals to each state’s available resources, something it did in the past only for each state’s bonds. It found that some relatively low-tax states, like Colorado and Illinois, had very high total debts compared with their revenue, suggesting that their finances could be improved by collecting more taxes.

    But some states that are heavily indebted, like New Jersey, also have among the highest tax rates, suggesting other types of action may be needed to reduce their debt burdens. –

    Other types of action? Go to Disneyworld? Try to pick fights with Pat Quinn? Punt? The dude is grasping for straws.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/27/business/27pension.html?scp=2&sq=moody%27s&st=cse


  31. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 2:44 pm:

    –I saw Christie on Kudlow yesterday. He was calling Quinn out to put it mildly. He can’t wait to verbally spar with him. Can you blame him?–

    What’s he trying to accomplish? Does that make him a better governor of New Jersey, his daily rants against Quinn? Getting the job done for the people of Newark, Camden, Trenton, Hoboken, Atlantic City?

    The office of governor of New Jersey has been described as the best political job in America. Lots of power. Lots of accountability. Lots of expectations.

    He’s just running away from his job again (back from Disneyworld) and looking to raise money from the Fox crowd for his delusional run for president (William Howard Taft nostalgia?).

    The guy’s a lightweight, in a few senses of the word.


  32. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 3:44 pm:

    “- Solomon - Personally I’ve always found economic data FROM ANY SOURCE to be completely suspect.”

    It’s great to welcome another FoxNews viewer to the blog. It must be so much easier to make arguments work when you don’t have to rely on stubborn things known as facts. For me, I guess I’m still old fashioned enough to believe I should back up my arguments with facts.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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