Madigan continues to mislead about what’s hurting middle-class wage growth in Illinois

Madigan continues to mislead about what’s hurting middle-class wage growth in Illinois

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan criticizes Gov. Bruce Rauner’s economic reform ideas and offers only growth-killing tax hikes for Illinoisans in need of better jobs and income.

Illinois has the worst personal income growth in the Midwest since the start of the Great Recession, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis compiled by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Yet Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan continues to insist that Gov. Bruce Rauner’s economic reform proposals, which are aimed at promoting economic growth, would drive down middle-class wages and the standard of living. Madigan has made this claim for months without offering any evidence to justify it. That’s because Madigan’s claim is not credible. And Madigan’s own proposal – an income-tax hike – is itself the most direct way for government to reduce the wages and standard of living for middle-class Illinoisans.

In a July interview at the Democratic National Convention, Madigan claimed that his political longevity benefits the state because it allows him to thwart Rauner’s reform agenda. Madigan repeated his tired claim that Rauner’s agenda would reduce wages and the standard of living.

In terms of the benefits of longevity, why I think it’s pretty clear where my longevity has put me in a position that I can successfully resist the extremism of Rauner, provide a check against the extreme ideas that he wants to bring into government. The ideas of reducing wages and the standard of living, hurting the vulnerable of our society.

Madigan does not seem to understand that investment, jobs growth and increased productivity are the primary drivers of rising wages. In fact, economic research makes clear that Madigan’s proposal – a tax hike – would harm the state by reducing investment, thereby sapping the state’s economic growth. Tax hikes reduce the savings needed for both new investment and for family consumption. And Illinois’ high-tax, regulation-heavy economy makes the state less attractive for businesses looking to invest in new machinery, facilities and equipment because the cost of operating in Illinois drives down businesses’ return on investment.

When businesses choose to invest in other states instead of Illinois, Illinoisans lose opportunities for new investment, more jobs and increased productivity – the critical factors that drive up middle-class wages. And the intransigence on spending and economic reform displayed by Illinois politicians – led by Madigan – is the very reason Illinois is losing out on these investments. Without businesses that want to operate in the state, compete for workers, and make productivity-enhancing investments, there is little that can be done to drive up wages and the standard of living.

Madigan never presents any contrary evidence about driving up wage growth because he has none. He simply resists reforms that would help the state because they don’t enhance his political power. Ironically, Madigan’s discussion of Rauner ends with Madigan’s suggestion that Rauner follow the path of hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans and leave for a state that embraces economic growth.

These are all extreme ideas. They have no place in a state like Illinois. There may be other states in the nation where they would welcome things like this. Rauner ought to go there.

Illinoisans ditching the Land of Lincoln for other states is a problem Madigan studiously ignores because it is a powerful indictment of his tenure. It is also one of the factors that led to Rauner’s election. Rather than goading Rauner to depart for another state, Madigan should study why a record number of working-age Illinoisans are already moving out every year. The speaker would find that greater economic freedom and more economic opportunities attract Illinoisans to other states where they find better wages and a higher standard of living.

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