And the good news is … we’re not Illinois

(Fort Wayne) News-Sentinel

To understand how a state is doing, sometimes it is necessary to compare it to a larger group, such as Indiana to other Midwest states or even to all 50 states. But sometimes it is possible to get a good idea just by comparing it to one other state.

Consider, for example, how Indiana is faring compared with its adjacent neighbor Illinois.

HMD Trucking is leaving Illinois and building a $6 million headquarters and depot in Gary, with plans to create 500 jobs by 2021. Alliance Steel of Bedford Park wants to build a $35 million plant in Gary. Hoist Liftruck and T&B Tube have jumped the state line. More are planning to follow.

“Why?” asks The Chicago Tribune and then provides its own answer: “Because Indiana is one of the best states in the nation for doing business, and Illinois is one of the worst.” The difference has become so obvious that the Tribune published an editorial with the headline, “What’s so great about the Hoosier state? It’s not Illinois.”

Indeed it’s not.

Indiana has a balanced budget and a $2 billion surplus. Illinois has more than $130 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, an unbalanced budget and $15 billion in overdue bills. Illinois has higher taxes, too, which would need to be raised even higher to right the ship.

“We have no idea what that would cost taxpayers,” writes the Tribune, “given that the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, ruled by House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, has resisted Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on his turnaround plan. This constitutes a major roadblock to future job growth and prosperity.”

Is it any wonder companies would leave Illinois for Indiana, or that Indiana might have the edge in snaring ones seeking to build, like Toyota and Mazda, which are scouting the Midwest and South together for a location to build a $1.6 billion assembly plant that could employ 4,000 workers?

“Employers don’t want to pay for someone else’s dysfunction,” notes the Tribune. “They want to grow in a healthy, stable environment. They want trustworthy government, simplified regulations and the lowest costs possible. So things keep looking worse in Illinois, and better in Indiana.”

Too many state governments adopt an antagonistic attitude toward business because it is thought that it somehow supports “the little guy.” But governments that create a business-friendly atmosphere do more for those little guys than all the largess a government can ever muster.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association.