Since he joined the state as director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Jim Schultz has made a point of saying what a terrible job his home state is doing. “The brand of the state of Illinois is not the one I want to go to market with,” Schultz said, in apparent understatement. “I’m a fifth-generation Illinoisan, and I’m embarrassed by what our state’s been placed in from an economic development standpoint. “Illinois is consistently ranked near the bottom in various polls in job creation and investments. We’re dead last in private sector job creation since 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Chief Executive magazine ranks the state of Illinois 48th in the best business climate out of 50. And Thumbtack.com rated the state of Illinois in small business friendliness: they gave our state an F.”
Imagine where Illinois would be without interstate highways, railroads, and O’Hare Airport.
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Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) dismissed Schultz’ diatribe as “political rhetoric.” He said Schultz, speaking at a “committee of the whole” hearing the House convened to discuss the governor’s idea to place the agency into a public-private partnership, has some good ideas, but they should include a “sunset,” a fixed term, so the General Assembly can evaluate the project’s progress.
Madigan said when his negotiator brought up the idea of a sunset, the governor’s team walked away from the table. Schultz, a longtime Effingham businessman recruited by the governor, lamented the absence from the hearing of the head of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, an indication the administration was not pleased with the structure of the hearing in the Democratic-led General Assembly.