By: Ted Dabrowski, Mark Glennon and John Klingner

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has a narrative he wants Illinoisans to believe. “The narrative about Illinois,” he said at the Chicago Economic Club, “is that we are a state on the rise. That we’ve had our challenges, that’s for sure. That we were going in the wrong direction, but we are turning the ship in the right direction, and we are powering ourselves forward.”

And during Wednesday’s State of the State he added, “I’m here to tell the carnival barkers, the doomsayers, the paid professional critics – the State of our State is growing stronger each day.”

But Pritzker is mistaken to think Illinoisans will buy false optimism. Pritzker hasn’t passed or promoted a single structural spending or governance reform that justifies his narrative. He’s categorically rejected a pension amendment. His property tax commission can’t put together a coherent report. He has refused to change the spending patterns in the state. And he’s not going to convince anybody that his tough talk about corruption is real unless he tells House Speaker Michael Madigan to hit the road.

With nothing to back him up, the governor is asking Illinoisans to simply ignore the reality they are living in – that taxes are too high, services are being crowded out, real home values continue to fall, and that residents are leaving at a record pace.

And as for the “doomsayers,” they’re only relating what Illinoisans and people, businesses and organizations across the country already know: that Illinois is a national outlier. Most are simply reporting the winners and losers across the country, and Illinois is consistently the loser:

– U.S. News and World Report concluded Illinois is the worst state in the nation for “fiscal stability,” while states like Tennessee and Indiana are named two of the best.

Kiplinger called Illinois the least tax-friendly state in the nation. Wyoming is the most-friendly.

– WalletHub reported that Illinoisans face the highest tax burden of any state in the nation.

– Moody’s reports that Illinois’ finances justify a position that’s one notch above junk, the lowest in the nation, while confirming the AAA-credit rating of states like Indiana.

– GOBankingRates warned that nine Illinois cities are among the top 50 housing markets in the nation that are “turning ugly.”

– S&P and Census data show Illinois and Chicago’s real home prices have fallen even as the property values in neighboring states have grown three to six times more.

– The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg have warned that Illinois is one of the biggest losers in the competition for people and wealth.

– The Financial Times asked whether it’s Illinois, New Jersey or California that will be the “next Italy” and warned that state insolvency may be a systemic risk to the entire country.

– Former FDIC Chairman William Isaac, a leading insolvency expert and a Democrat, who wrote three years ago that both Illinois and Chicago should already have been in some form of bankruptcy proceeding.

– John Diedrich, global head of investments for CA Ventures, told the Chicago Tribune that the state’s inability to accurately project future property taxes was “one strike too many” for major investors such as pension funds and insurance companies looking to invest in states. 

– Warren Buffett basically told businesses to stay the heck out of Illinois. Clearly referring to states like ours, he said: “If I were relocating into some state that had a huge unfunded pension plan I’m walking into liabilities…I’ll be here for the life of the pension plan and they will come after corporations, they’ll come after individuals.”

– Michael Newman, president of Chicago developer Golub, said in Crain’s “I spend every day talking with capital partners and trying to sell them on (new projects in) Chicago, and this has been the most challenging time that I can remember.”

– The Wall Street Journal, referring to Illinois’ “inevitable financial collapse,” said the state is “trying to pull off a circus to improve its financial position,” and ran a story this month saying “Chicago Property Prices Stagnate, Trail Even Crisis-Stricken Hong Kong.”

Does Pritzker really think these are all political hacks, paid professional critics and carnival barkers? Are he and his advisers not reading these things? Doesn’t he know that these organizations’ predictions have turned to actual observations?

But it’s more than just about the observations of outside media, organizations and companies. Pritzker is dismissing the experiences of ordinary people who live Illinois’ reality every day.

It’s our neighbors, relatives, friends and business associates who left this state for a better life.

It’s people like Tanya Wellmaker who left Collinsville, Illinois in 2012 for better opportunities in entrepreneur-friendly Atlanta. 

It’s the former mayor of Lakewood, Paul Serwatka, who took his young family to booming northern Alabama.

It’s our former neighbor, who left Wilmette after calculating he could amass $1 million over 20 years by simply leaving Illinois and its sky-high property taxes for low-cost Colorado.

And it’s people like Don and Paula Parker, fixed income seniors who will be forced to leave Illinois if taxes go any higher.

Distorted reality

There’s no denying Gov. Pritzker has brought “harmony” to state government. Gone are the stalemate and infighting of the past four years. 

But gone with the rancor and dysfunction is any sense of fiscal realism. Instead, Pritzker is pitching a distorted reality.

The governor is asking Illinoisans not just to shun the experts and common citizens like those above, but to deny what they are seeing and hearing with their own eyes and ears. 

It won’t work.

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7 months ago

Excellent!

Poor Taxpayer
7 months ago

Solve Illinois pension crisis with a U Haul.

Rick
7 months ago

Well Volkswagen just made a buyout offer to Navistar in Lisle, where I work. I hope like hell they move the HQ out of Illinois I’ll relocate in a heartbeat, if the board of directors accepts the buyout. I don’t like the idea of a deeply EU entrenched business owning one of Americas oldest companies that invented the McCormack reaper revolutionized agriculture… I don’t like EU commie globalists. But considering Navistar now finds itself in a state like IL it’s probably good for them. Strange that Volkswagen made the offer the week of Brexit. Germany must be worried about getting… Read more »

Shirley Miller
7 months ago
Reply to  Rick

Volkswagon is a successful company. I think they want a foothold in the US, not the other way around like you fear. It will open Navistar up to new markets too. Tariffs are always a wildcard, but I don’t think this has anything to do with Brexit, Brexit has been coming for three years.

debtsor
7 months ago
Reply to  Shirley Miller

Brexit was passed three years ago, but has only been coming since the Tories won overwhelming in the UK a few months ago. And it finally happened. If the UK election is a precursor of what’s coming in the US, it’s going to be a blow out for Trump, literally electoral landslide, talking 40 states type of landslide.

s and p 500
7 months ago

This is like episode 10 of ‘The Resident”. Dr. Cain (Morris Chestnut) is a hot-shot surgeon hired by Chastain Memorial Hospital to bring in patients to the financially distressed hospital. A risky surgery goes south and Cain orders heroic life-saving procedures. Another doctor tells him don’t do it because the patient is going to be a vegetable if he lives. In his booming voice, Cain says–“I’m only going to say this once–NOBODY dies in my O.R.” Probably Pritzker likewise has told his staff–“I’m only going to say this once–nobody talks about bankruptcy in my office.”

mqyl
7 months ago

Right. What data does he have to support his claim that IL is moving in the right direction? Maybe he meant that IL residents are moving in the right direction – out-of-state.

MarieWindle
7 months ago

When can we vote him out , he s not doing anything for anybody in Il except make us pay more taxes n not see any good coming from it !!!

The Truth Hurts
7 months ago
Reply to  MarieWindle

About 3 years from now. Like it or not he ran on the platform of legalized marijuana, additional spending, and additional taxes in the form of a progressive income tax. It’s not like he ran on cutting spending, reforming pensions, and lower taxes. He is doing exactly what he said he would do. The majority of the people in Illinois voted for it.

debtsor
7 months ago

This is true. Orange Man Bad; higher taxes, infanticide, drugs, LQBTQ+ for children, this is exactly what they want. The sooner the middle class of Illinois understands they are no longer welcome in Illinois, the better off the middle class will be. They are purposely driving you out of state.

MarieWindle
7 months ago

When do we get to vote him out , he s just a waste of air

Gemini
7 months ago

You guys always do a good job but this article really knocks it out of the ballpark.

Keep up the good work!

Ken
7 months ago

Right! The state is growing, but not in the productive areas. Pritzker and his cronies have been hiring more government employees. I don’t remember if I read it on Wirepoints or Illinois Policy Institute, but Springfield was the biggest hirer of people last year.

Jeff Carter
7 months ago

Pritzker lost any pretense or credibility of being reform minded when we found out about the toilets and the 330k he ripped off from taxpayers. He’s just a normal corrupt Machine pol that will do anything to keep power. He also didn’t mention redistricting the state so elections were competitive which would go a long way to restoring ethics. He is a carnival barker of the worst kind. Bait and switch with red meat for true believers. Totally unlikable and is only liked for his checkbook. Kind of sad because he doesn’t have to be that way.

Freddy
7 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Carter

I still don’t understand why taking toilets out can reduce assessed value. Many assessments are based on comparable sales in close proximity to subject property. JB’s other mansion was next door and that home should have been used as a comparable all things being equal. To make a property uninhabitable it would have to have black mold or foundation/ structural damage so imminent danger to occupants makes it uninhabitable. (No toilets could imply imminent danger of soiling one’s self). Even if that were the case it still takes time to lower value usually a small 30 day window when assessment… Read more »

debtsor
7 months ago
Reply to  Freddy

Rehabbers and renovators get tax abatement for projects while they are uninhabitable. the tax abatement ends when the house is habitable again. Morbidly Obese used this tax loophole to reduce his own taxes on the entire home even though only a portion of it was “uninhabitable”. It wasn’t even uninhabitable, like gutted to the studs. it was just being updated. That’s why he removed the toilets, because it’s the fiction that the house was ‘uninhabitable’ even though he just removed the toilets, he didn’t gut it, just just lived in the other half of the house.

debtsor
7 months ago

Obese Jabba spent $200,000,000 to buy the governor’s office for the worst and least desirable state in the union, and office in which 3 of the 6 former occupants went to federal prison. I question Jabba’s judgment spending $200,000,000 to be governor of this crappy state. $200,000,000 is a lot of money, this morbidly obese jabba definitely bought ‘high’ and will likely sell ‘low.

Bob Out of Here
7 months ago
Reply to  debtsor

He was definitely high when he bought it.

Platinum Goose
7 months ago

I saw Pritzker being interviewed on tv a few weeks ago. Couldn’t count the number of times he blamed Rauner for something. When it all comes crashing down he’ll still be blaming Rauner.

Sam Max
7 months ago
Reply to  Platinum Goose

Totally agree, but the GOPers in DC use the same damn argument and blame Obama for everything.

Call them both out, or accept hypocrisy as a religion

debtsor
7 months ago
Reply to  Sam Max

But it really was Obama’s fault. Trump is fixing it and, thankfully, dismantling every last piece of Obama’s tarnished legacy. KAG 2020. In IL it’s MADIGAN’s fault. All of it, it all leads back to 1 person, Madigan. Rauner was hamstringed since day 1, he literally got nothing done, couldn’t get a reasonable budget passed, he had to veto the crap that came from Madigan’s office, and his Veto was overridden by Madigan and a handful of traitorous RINOs. Hard to blame Rauner for anything when he unable to do anything for 4 years, he got almost nothing done, which… Read more »

gio
7 months ago

Mark, Ted, John: another great piece! Thank you for your courage and commitment. Many of your local readers are interested in ways we can take these kleptocrats to task. Aside from reading, sharing, commenting and donating, what do you recommend we do/support in order to trigger a bankruptcy/reorg process or something of the like? Lawsuits? FOIA? Speak at city council hearings? Ambush, citizen journalism? Convene a grand jury? “New Illinois”? My fear is that readers might become so disenchanted by consuming this content that they might disengage unless they have an effective outlet to rattle the necessary cages. $25 for… Read more »

DantheMan
7 months ago
Reply to  gio

Gio, if you really want to fight and hurt the kleptocrats, you have to leave Illinois. Deny them your tax dollars. See Joe Blow’s comment below. He has hurt them more by leaving than you ever could with any potential in state activism.

gio
7 months ago
Reply to  DantheMan

Abandon Ted, Mark, and John and let them go down with the ship!?

Though I fear you might be right, while we remain I think it only makes sense to be a vocal trouble maker/gadfly of sorts to the status quo politicians and supporters alike.

I do not resent those who have fled and understand completely, but this is our home.Psychologically, I can’t in good faith just leave till I’ve exhausted all other options.

Admin
7 months ago
Reply to  gio

Gio, I think the answer to that is specific to the individual. Whatever you have the time, skill and inclination to do of the things you listed are good. I do think the category of actions that are most effective are those that are a) public and b) in-the-face of the politicians. For example, go to a town hall and speak up firmly, armed with facts that we try to provide here. Ridicule the offenders not with name calling but with facts. Just moving can be an entirely prudent and defensible thing to do, but it’s just not viable for… Read more »

gio
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

Thank you, Mark, for your thoughtful response. I’ll proceed accordingly. Sending $25 your way now!

https://www.chicityclerk.com/city-council-news-central/council-agenda#action

DantheMan
7 months ago
Reply to  gio

GIO, unless I’m mistaken, Ted, Mark, and John expect to go down with the ship. Only then can they help guide the ship off the bottom in a responsible, financially sound manner. It sounds like you are of a mind to join them. Best of luck to you all. I respect your decision even if I disagree with it.

joe blow
7 months ago

By moving last year I have already saved my household $11k in property taxes, and about 15k in income taxes, this is money that is stolen from my pocket EVERY SINGLE YEAR! And will only increase going forward! Yikes! 26k x 25 more years working = $650,000!!! And that’s the LOWEST possible number they are going to steal from me! this is before the SALT deduction as well, as I’m paying roughly 5k in property taxes now and no income taxes… add that to the nickle and dime fees, tickets, insane sales taxes, etc. and it sucked moving but it… Read more »

Mike Salva
7 months ago
Reply to  joe blow

I agree, vote with your feet and give Guv. Porkchop, King Madigan and all of their union masters the middle finger!!

mqyl
7 months ago
Reply to  joe blow

… and remember the money you’re making on your property appreciating and the cost you’re avoiding of your former IL property stagnating or depreciating. Figure out how much money that would be for 25 more years!

DantheMan
7 months ago
Reply to  mqyl

Exactly. Its better to take a one time financial hit now, and there is some satisfaction in the fact you stood up for your yourself. Also, you set an example if you have kids such as, “Dad (and/or Mom) don’t let others push him around.”

Old Spartan
7 months ago

Excellent piece Wirepoints. Outstanding summary of the view that impartial outsiders have of the mess we are in. You article should be a full page ad in the Tribune and SunTimes so more people would see it. And it isnt just Pritzker deceiving us– it is the Comptroller and Treasurer and Democrat leadership.in both houses. They have all figured out how to dupe the voters here, which unfortunately is getting easier and easier.

DantheMan
7 months ago
Reply to  Old Spartan

It shouldn’t be necessary for Wirepoints to sponsor ads in the Chicago papers. Those papers should already be reporting on the crisis every day on the front page. If they did their jobs properly, Wirepoints wouldn’t even need to exist.

gio
7 months ago
Reply to  Old Spartan

Mark & Ted: If you guys need money for a stunt like this or anything else you think would be effective in amplifying your message, please do not hesitate to ask.

MikeH
7 months ago

“A state on the rise”. You seem to have your directions reversed, Jabba. Oblivion is down. Way down….

MikeH
7 months ago
Reply to  MikeH

Hello Capfax downvoters. Keep drinking Miller’s Kiol Aid while that orange man you all hate gets acquitted and reelected.

Platinum Goose
7 months ago
Reply to  MikeH

I thought it might be Pritzker with the downvotes.

MikeH
7 months ago
Reply to  Platinum Goose

Heh. Maybe he drunk dialled Kwame and Mendoza. “They’re saying mean things about us again!”