While politicians in Springfield haggle over taxi ride-sharing, making permanent a “temporary” income tax increase and desperately needed pension reform that has come to a screeching halt, they should take a minute to look at Illinois’ humiliating ranking on this year’s best and worst states for business survey. More than 500 CEOs across the country partook in Chief Executive’s 10th annual survey, “2014 Best & Worst States for Business,” which ranks each state based on various business climate factors. Rankings were determined by critical measures such as taxes, regulations, quality of the workforce and living environment, according to Chief Executive Editor-in-Chief JP Donlon. “For example, a state’s attitude toward business is viewed as a critical component of its tax and regulatory regime, while employees’ attitude toward management is considered a crucial factor in the perceived quality of a region’s workforce,” said Donlon. “Public education and health are also important factors in the living environment, as are such things as cost of living and affordable housing.” Texas took the No. 1 spot, as it has every year since the survey began, though Florida — ranked second — is closing in on the Lone Star state’s 10-year reign. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a republican who is actually a Bloomington, Ill. native, told Chief Executive that his state took cues from Texas and the Jim Collins ‘flywheel effect,’ which spurs economic momentum as prominent companies invest in the state. “We’ve learned from Texas how to tell our story better and it helps that we’ve cut taxes 25 times — about $400 million,” Scott told the magazine. “When companies like Hertz, Amazon, Deutsche Bank and Verizon add jobs here, it causes more people to look at us. Business is comfortable that we’ll keep the tax base low and improve our workforce.” While things are all well and good in the South, what about here in the Midwest? Wisconsin improved from 41st five years ago to 14th this year, in large part because of major legislative reforms enacted by Republican Gov. Scott Walker when he signed Senate Bill 1. Over the next two years, the state’s taxpayers will see $504 million in tax relief, including a reduction to income and property tax rates, as well as the eradication of income taxes for manufacturers. Ohio has experienced a similar Cinderella story. Republican Gov. John Kasich has not only transformed the state’s $8 billion deficit into a $1.5 billion surplus in just six years, but it’s also the No. 1 job creator in the Midwest and enjoys a 5.7 percent unemployment rate, down from 7.3 a year ago. As for the battered and bruised state of Illinois, it ranked in at 48 — the third-worst in the nation – trailed only by New York and California, respectively. There was no change from last year. Here’s a breakdown of the 10 worst states for business. Currently, Illinois has the worst credit rating in the nation, third-highest unemployment rate and is the third-worst state for business two years running. If Springfield can’t come to terms with these facts, pretty soon there will be no businesses left to tax.
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