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Dan Hynes Offers Bold Jobs Plan, But Where Are the Jobs?

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Democratic candidate for governor Dan Hynes this week unveiled his plan to create jobs in Illinois.

"To succeed, Illinois needs a dynamic change in direction," Hynes said in his announcement. "Our state needs innovative leadership and innovative policies that are geared toward creating an innovative economy. Illinois needs a Clean Start."

Indeed.

Hynes unveiled his Clean Start plan in Rockford, home to the highest unemployment rate in the state. As of October, the unemployment rate in Winnebago County hovers menacingly at 15.9%.

The statewide unemployment rate is 11%. The U.S. rate is 10.2%

Hynes says his Clean Start for Illinois is a road map to fighting unemployment by "taking a holistic approach to growing Illinois' economy." The plan addresses the state's areas of deficiency:

  • Innovation
- investing in technology, ideas, and new industries.
  • Economic Diversity
- investing in small businesses and community-based enterprises.
  • Growth Capital and Entrepreneurship
- investing in new businesses.
  • Productivity
- investing in people, their health, education, and training.
  • 21st Century Government
- investing in a nimbler, more modern state government.

"The Clean Start for Illinois plan is a recognition that we must embrace the future, and be bold in our solutions to grow our state economy," Hynes said.

Hynes' agenda is indeed bold.

The summary of the economic issues facing Illinois is masterful in analysis. But the proposed "solutions" are mournfully short in detail. Hynes offers no estimated cost to the state treasury to pay for his initiatives. He offers no timetable. None. Additionally, he offers zero estimate on the number of, well, jobs to be created. Zero.

Illinois has lost well over 286,000 jobs in the last year. It would be reassuring -- and credible -- to voters if a "jobs plan" contained three essential elements: 1. How much will it cost? 2. When will it start? 3. How many jobs will it produce?

Is that asking too much?

Apparently.

Those questions were submitted to Hynes' press office yesterday. They went unacknowledged, unanswered. If there are indeed answers, we would love to have them.

What Hynes has proposed is a bold, broad and thoughtful jobs plan. It focuses on clean wind energy development, clean water technology, high-speed rail transportation, high-tech manufacturing. All great initiatives. But they are for some distant, undefined future. The plan has no sense of urgency.

And it's the here and now that worries Illinois voters. There is precious little in his plan that appears actionable by the legislature next year to get people working. Yesterday. It's near-term, immediate action that is needed.

Meanwhile, at his Rockford press conference, Hynes attacked Quinn over his handling of the state's $31 billion new capitol projects jobs bill that will generate an estimated 439,000 jobs over the next six years.

Pat Quinn had a choice. He could have signed the capital bill immediately, created jobs and given the economy a jumpstart. Or he could use this essential legislation as a political chip, holding its passage over the heads of lawmakers reluctant to pass his misguided 50 percent income tax increase on middle class families. Pat Quinn chose to play politics. So in this time of economic uncertainty, after yet another construction season has ended, the job growth from the capital bill is nearly invisible and unemployment continues to rise.

The state's first capitol construction bill in nearly a decade was ensnarled in budget politics during the legislative session. And Quinn bears the lion's share of the political responsibility. He's the governor. He called the shots. He linked the capital bill to the budget -- and that budget slugfest dragged into July.

Rightly or wrongly that linkage came at the expense of a lost construction season. It's just a fact.

Quinn, who has his own jobs plan for the campaign season, did manage in April to squeeze out a mini-capital bill, House Bill 289, which rolled out 858 miles of road and bridge projects throughout Illinois, creating and retaining nearly 4,000 jobs statewide. But it's too little given the current Illinois job crisis.

Between Quinn and Hynes' combined jobs plans -- Quinn focusing on traditional road, bridge and school infrastructure and Hynes focusing on 21st Century high-tech innovation -- there is real economic promise for Illinois ... in the future.

It's the present that is short-changed.

It's the present voters will remember in this election year to come.

Betcha.