A national survey of CEOs released Wednesday contained bad news for Democratic Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn as the survey identified Illinois as the nation's third worst state to do business in.
Illinois was ranked 48th in the survey -- the same place where Chief Executive magazine ranked the state last year -- and only placed above New York and California, which has ranked last for each of the eight years the magazine has conducted the survey. Texas, Florida and North Carolina again ranked as the nation's "best" places to do business.
The survey brought together responses from 650 CEOs, who are asked to grade states where they do business based on their taxes and regulations, workforce quality and quality of life. It specifically pointed to the state's "new tax burdens" as a major source of its business-unfriendliness.
Responding to the survey's findings, Marcelyn Love, spokeswoman for the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, pointed out to the Associated Press that the state added 32,000 jobs to the economy last year and has seen seven straight months of declining unemployment. In March, the state added 9,100 jobs and reached an unemployment rate of 8.8 percent -- the lowest rate the state has seen since February 2009.
The survey's release arrives in the midst of an ongoing clash between Gov. Quinn and his neighbor to the north, Wisconsin's controversial Republican Governor Scott Walker. On MSNBC's "The Ed Show" last week, Quinn described Walker as an "ideologue" responsible for the state's disappointing rate of job growth. In a previous appearance in Illinois, Walker derided Illinois' financial health and said the state was "driv[ing] away wealth" with its tax rate.
In the Chief Executive magazine survey, Walker's Wisconsin ranked 20th, up four spots from the previous year's survey, and well ahead of Illinois.
Last year, Illinois increased taxes, sending several businesses either packing or threatening to leave the state. CBOE Holdings, Sears and CME Group all said they would vacate the state unless the General Assembly approved millions of dollars in tax breaks -- which they did.
Peoria-based Caterpillar Inc. CEO Doug Oberhelman was among the more outspoken critics of the tax hike, announcing earlier this year that it would build its new plant in North Carolina instead of Illinois. Caterpillar said in a statement that the state's "business climate and overall fiscal health" made it "unpractical" for the company to base its new plant there.