CHICAGO (CBS) – A war of words between Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has heated up, as Christie called Quinn “a disaster” and Quinn’s office criticized New Jersey’s dismal record of creating jobs.
It started when the Illinois non-profit advocacy group “For A Better Chicago” prepared a set of ads that will appear in several New Jersey business publications, criticizing that state’s business climate.
“Let me tell you something: We won’t lose any business to Illinois as long as Pat Quinn’s the governor,” Christie, a Republican, said during a news conference Thursday. “He’s a disaster.”
In response, Quinn spokeswoman Brie Callahan pointed out that Illinois ranked fourth in the nation last year in job creation, while New Jersey ranked last.
“Site Selection magazine just named Illinois in their top 10, New Jersey was nowhere to be found,” Callahan said in an email. “Instead of making personal attacks on other governors, Governor Quinn is focused on getting our state’s fiscal house in order and continuing to make Illinois an even stronger economic competitor.”
The Chicago group’s ads were created in retaliation for an ad campaign Christie launched earlier this year, urging Illinois businesses to move to New jersey in light of a recent Illinois income tax hike.
For A Better Chicago spokesman Jake Braun said his group’s ads seek to set the record straight about which state has the best business climate.
“We understand that governors have to be cheerleaders for their states, but the claims Gov. Christie is making are so far from the truth,” Braun said.
The ads focus on New Jersey’s high property taxes and that state’s cost of living. The ads say “Rhetoric is nice, reality matters.”
Christie launched his ad campaign after Quinn, a Democrat, signed off on legislation that raised personal income taxes to 5 percent from 3 percent and corporate business taxes to 9.5 percent from 7.3 percent to help balance the Illinois state budget.
That makes Illinois’ business tax rate higher than New Jersey’s 9 percent for businesses with incomes over $100,000. But its personal income tax rate remains lower: New Jersey’s rate 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.
In print and radio ads in January, Christie reiterated his commitment not to raise taxes. Christie also took a trip last month to Chicago to meet with business leaders.
At the time, Quinn said he wasn’t concerned by Christie’s threat.
“I don’t know why anybody would listen to him,” Quinn of Christie in January. “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.”
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