Weeks after launching an advertising campaign that encourages businesses in Illinois to relocate to New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie is heading to Chicago with the same message.
The Newark Star-Ledger reports that Christie plans to meet with local business leaders about the "current economic climate" in the state, and possibly convince them to take their businesses east.
"Both New Jersey and Illinois are providing business leaders with certainty," Christie said, according to the Star-Ledger. "In New Jersey you can be certain taxes are going down over the next three years, and in Illinois you can be certain they are going up."
When Illinois Governor Pat Quinn heard about Christie's efforts in January, he laughed them off.
"I don't know why anybody would listen to him," Quinn said. "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."
Christie's spokesman insisted that his Chicago trip was not "grandstanding" or a "media event," but some Illinois business leaders are skeptical of his motives. Rich Miller of the Capitol Fax blog pointed out Friday that Illinoisans see "right through the act."
A report in the Daily Herald seems to echo that sentiment:
Overtures by New Jersey's Chris Christie, Indiana's Mitch Daniels and Wisconsin's Scott Walker are "a lot of political theater, a lot of hubris," said Kim Maisch, director of the Illinois chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents about 10,000 small businesses in the state.
New Jersey Democrats have also criticized their governor focusing more on his national image and less on the issues facing their state.
"Instead of polishing his national conservative credentials by appearing with big business leaders on Fox, the governor should head back to Trenton and sign the 30 bills on his desk that would actually do something to help businesses large and small create jobs and get the economy moving," Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said in a statement, according to the Star-Ledger.
Gov. Quinn's press secretary Brie Callahan told the Philadelphia Inquirer in January that even with a 67 percent increase, the Illinois personal income tax rate is still below New Jersey's graduated "rates for taxable incomes above $40,000." Callahan also said the state's corporate tax rate is still below New Jersey's 9 percent rate.
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton also took a few shots at Christie Friday, according to the Capitol Fax blog.
"Illinois has reformed its pension system, enacted spending limits, recruited and retained key businesses and put itself back on track for stability and prosperity," Cullerton said. "Compare that to New Jersey where the governor is spending more of the people's money promoting himself in the Illinois media than he is on his state's underfunded pension systems . . . Showmanship and 2012 aspirations don't create jobs anywhere."