My brother-in-law, who lives in our district, is starting his career working in manufacturing, after serving almost a decade in the military. Manufacturing is universally acknowledged as one of the keys to a stable healthy economy. And Illinois has traditionally been the manufacturing hub of the Midwest.
Well, I just saw a statistic that turned my head: for every 3 manufacturing jobs in Illinois, there are 4 state and local government jobs. That’s according to the June 2015 survey from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, which identified 746,700 state and local government workers, compared to 574,200 manufacturing workers.
Manufacturing companies are leaving for greener pastures, in nearby states like Wisconsin and Indiana. Some leave because the laws and regulations are too complicated and obtrusive. Some leave because their property taxes and other taxes are higher than our neighbors. In business, you can either increase your revenue—the number of products sold and the amount you sell them for—or you can decrease your costs to produce and deliver the product—that’s where all the property taxes, income taxes, corporate taxes, fees, lawsuit costs, and state and local regulation costs combine to impact the profit margin. Without profits, you can’t hire folks. Without profits, your business will soon enough go under.
When our manufacturing businesses leave, they take a range of jobs. There are the entry level positions, like the one my brother-in-law and many other young people need to get their start in manufacturing. Then there are those mid-level skilled positions, the types that allow folks to buy homes, support families, and set down deep roots in their communities. And there are also the management and ownership positions to aspire to, for those who have the aptitude and willingness to work hard enough to get into them. Sometimes the management positions become jumping off points for folks to become owners of the particular business—or to go and start their own businesses.
All of this is why losing a business means a lot more than just a fluctuation in some economic numbers. When an Illinois business moves or closes, it’s like a small community scattering or vanishing.
Some in Springfield don’t agree with this assessment. They advocate for the status quo: the status quo that got them elected, the status quo that often provides them additional personal profit. For them, it’s about “getting theirs.” These are the legislators who refuse reform and instead just demand more and more money for government—usually at the expense of folks in DuPage and the collar counties.
Well, we’re tired of paying for their status quo. We’re tired of seeing our neighbors forced out of Illinois because of job loss. We’re tired of kids not being able to find jobs here. We’re tired of being the laughingstock of the country.
The only thing standing in the way of an Illinois turnaround is the status quo in Springfield.
But for the first time in over a decade, the fight is on to upend that status quo. The fight is on to reform government at every level - to change our regulations, to meet the needs of innovative and modern businesses, and to finally reform our broken property tax system.
You’re now seeing the chinks in the armor. Bad bills are being vetoed by the governor—and the status quo legislators are learning that they can’t override the vetoes. In the recent past, these legislators got whatever they wanted, as long as they could cut the right deal with the right people. No more.
As you watch the news coverage of what’s happening in the state capital, watch for these victories, the times where the political establishment can’t get its way. Each time that happens, we’re one step closer to getting the reform we need in Illinois. We’re one step closer to becoming a state where my brother-in-law and those like him can find good-paying jobs, raise healthy and happy families, and build strong communities.