Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker was recently spotted in New Hampshire and Florida, spurring speculation that he is eyeing a presidential nomination in 2024. Or maybe he’s trying to flee Illinois, like so many others during his tenure as governor.
Research firm Wirepoints finds in a new report that Illinois’ real GDP grew just 0.5% between the first quarters of 2019 and 2022, the first three years of Mr. Pritzker’s governorship. This is by far the slowest growth in the region. Indiana’s GDP grew 6.1%, Iowa’s 5.2%, and Michigan (3.7%), Kentucky (3.3%) and Missouri (3.1%) also outperformed. Even slow-growing Wisconsin (1.6%) saw three times the growth of Illinois.
Mr. Pritzker cannot blame climate change. Illinois’ lagging GDP is particularly notable as it benefited greatly from rising soft commodity prices. Agricultural GDP in Illinois increased 25.4% over the three-year period, ahead of Iowa (21.2%), Missouri (15%), Michigan (11.4%) and Kentucky (0.4%).
But high taxes, crime, and lousy schools are driving residents and businesses out of state. Ken Griffin recently said he is moving his Citadel hedge fund and securities trading firm from Chicago to Miami. Caterpillar is expanding its corporate headquarters in Irving, Texas, and Boeing is moving its headquarters to Arlington, Virginia.
Illinois lost $8.5 billion in adjusted gross income to emigration in 2020, or about 1.9% of AGI, ranking 49th in the country. The only state that lost a major share was New York. Florida won $23.7 billion and New Hampshire $960 million. Perhaps Mr. Pritzker was in these low-tax states to meet with Democratic donors who have moved out of Illinois.
Mr. Pritzker and Democrats were concerned enough about his re-election that they spent more than $30 million during the GOP primary to bolster Republican Senator Darren Bailey, who was considered the weakest candidate on the field. But we wonder if Mr. Pritzker really wants to stay on for a full second term if the state’s and Chicago’s pension liabilities could become a crisis again.
Running for president could be a nice distraction that saves him from having to deal with the mess the Democrats have wreaked in Illinois.
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Appeared in the print edition on July 19, 2022.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/j-b-pritzkers-illinois-exit-strategy-president-governor-ken-griffin-darren-bailey-11658181960 Pritzker’s Illinois Exit Strategy? – WSJ