Updated 01/25/11 – 5:19 p.m.
CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – Gov. Pat Quinn says New Jersey needs to improve its own corporate climate before trying to poach businesses from Illinois.
The governor made clear in a wide-ranging news conference that he is not concerned by commercials from the New Jersey governor suggesting Illinois businesses relocate to the Garden State.
There’s nothing subtle about Christie’s message.
“Don’t let Illinois balance its budget on the back of your business. Choose New Jersey. We mean business,” Christie says in the radio ad. And that is only part of New Jersey’s ad campaign targeting Illinois’ jobs and businesses.
“Oh, and one more thing. As long as I’m governor, I will not raise your taxes,” Christie adds.
Quinn didn’t hesitate to take a shot at Christie, who campaigned for Quinn’s Republican rival last fall in the race for governor.
“I don’t know why anybody would listen to him,” Quinn says of his New Jersey counterpart. “New Jersey’s way of balancing the budget is not to pay their pension payment, not to deliver on property tax relief that was promised, to fire teachers, to take an infrastructure project — building a tunnel that had already been started — and end it and have to pay money back to the federal government. I don’t need that kind of advice from that guy.”
Quinn notes that New Jersey has just moved from 50 up to 48 in rankings for the business climate. And he says the state killed 600 construction jobs by killing the infrastructure project he mentioned, a tunnel to New York.
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“I don’t believe that the governors of our country should be kicking each other in the shins,” Quinn said. “I am going to defend Illinois if some guy in New Jersey shows up in Illinois, running down our state.”
Quinn also says Illinois has a lot of be proud of when it comes to job growth.
As CBS 2′s Dana Kozlov reports, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton also seems unconcerned about New Jersey’s ad, saying “bring it on”.
“This is the beauty of these Republican governors pointing out we still have a lower tax rate than they do. Thank you very much for the ad,” Cullerton says.
Although in most cases, Illinois’ income tax rates are lower than neighboring states, that’s not the case with New Jersey.
A New Jersey Treasury Department spokesperson says the New Jersey corporate income tax rate is 9%. Illinois’ new base corporate tax rate is 7%, which is lower until you factor in the personal property replacement tax of 2.5%, bringing the corporate rate up to 9.5% in Illinois.
John Koslowski, a village trustee in south suburban Justice, is counting on that. His village has just hired a company to help actively pursue new business.
Koslowski says ads like these won’t help, but he hopes they won’t hurt, either.
“I think it’s going to be more challenging, yes. I think that’s one of the factors a business looks at, yes, taxes. But they’re going to look at a lot of other factors,” Koslowski said. “They’re gonna look at markets that you have that are here, they’re gonna look at your transportation, your proximity to different things. I think we’re still gonna be fine.”
Back at his news conference, Quinn also offered up an optimistic vision of Illinois economy. He said unemployment is continuing a slow decline, two points down in two years, with major businesses such as Ford and Navistar locating or expanding in Illinois.
Quinn added that said Chinese business leaders see Illinois as the bridge to the Midwest economy.
Quinn refused to enter the Rahm Emanuel fray, saying it’s up to the Illinois Supreme Court to decide if he should be on the Chicago mayoral ballot. The Supreme Court has yet to decide whether to hear the case, but has ruled to put Emanuel back on the ballot until they make a decision.
Quinn spoke at signing of a bipartisan Medicaid bill designed to save $700 million over five years by booting ineligibles off the rolls and paying doctors for improving patient health, not just for submitting bills.