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Illinois governor responds as states try to poach jobs

January 25, 2011

Gov. Pat Quinn has a message for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other officials trying to lure jobs from Illinois: Back off.

"We don't need some guy from Jersey to tell us how to do things in the Land of Lincoln," Quinn said Tuesday. "This is a guy whose business climate is rated 48th in the nation. That's up from 50th; I'll give him credit for that."

New Jersey's Republican governor has been running newspaper and radio ads in Illinois to try to lure away businesses after Illinois lawmakers decided to raise the corporate income tax. In the ads, Christie urges businesses to relocate to New Jersey.

"Had enough of outrageous tax increases?" asks an ad in The (Springfield) State Journal-Register. "We're committed to fiscal responsibility and lower taxes."

Other states have taken similar shots at Illinois.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, another Republican, criticized the tax increase and urged Illinois businesses to move north. State and local economic development groups in Indiana also plan advertising campaigns.

Quinn, a Democrat, said the states going after Illinois jobs play down the fact that their taxes often are higher even after Illinois' increase. Along with raising the corporate income tax from 4.8 percent to 7 percent, Illinois hiked its personal income tax from 3 percent to 5 percent. Some analyses of Illinois taxes also count a second corporate tax that essentially pushes the Illinois rate to 9.5 percent.

In New Jersey, the corporate rate is 9 percent for businesses with incomes over $100,000. Its personal income tax is 6.37 percent for couples earning more than $150,000 a year and 8.7 percent for those earning more than $500,000 a year.

Wisconsin's personal tax ranges from 4.6 percent to 7.5 percent. Its corporate rate is 7.9 percent.

Those states also can't match Illinois' recent economic record, Quinn said: Illinois saw more new jobs created than any other Midwestern state over the past year. The state has seen nine straight months of declining unemployment.

Companies like Ford and Navistar are expanding in Illinois, Quinn said, and Chinese officials just finished a Chicago visit that could result in more investment from overseas.

"They didn't go to Sheboygan (Wis.). They didn't go to Kokomo (Ind.). They came here to Illinois," Quinn said.

He scoffed at the idea of Christie offering advice on the budget and jobs, saying the New Jersey governor has tried to balance his state's budget by skipping payments to government retirement systems, cutting education funds, canceling a major public works project and reversing a property tax relief program.

"I don't know why anybody would listen to him," Quinn said at a Chicago news conference on an unrelated topic.

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