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Lawmaker: Illinois’ poor economic standing should spur political change

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(The Center Square) – Illinois’ unemployment rate is nearly a full percentage point above the national average and easily tops that of all neighboring states, the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows.

With overall unemployment at 4.8% in February, researchers found the state lost 6,600 jobs over a yearlong period the prior month, leaving the state ranked among the lowest U.S. states for non-farm job growth. This comes as the U.S. Census Bureau reports the state also suffered population loss for a 10th consecutive year.

State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, is sounding the alarm.

“You’ve got to lower the tax burden of our state and unfortunately, [Gov. J.B. Pritzker] is not committed to doing that,” McClure told The Center Square. “He just wants to do things for big press releases and things like that. He doesn’t want to actually cut the tax rate for the average person. We’ve got the highest property taxes in the country or the second highest and he’s been very much a contributing factor.”

At 4.8% and on the heels of seeing little job growth in 2023, Illinois’ overall unemployment rate now stands tied with New Jersey for No. 47 and behind Nevada (5.1%), California (5.3%) and the District of Columbia (5.1%). The poor showing comes at a time when the U.S. Census Bureau also reports the state lost nearly 33,000 residents over the last 12 months, marking the 10th consecutive year it has experienced population decline.

McClure points to all the red ink as further proof of the state being headed in the wrong direction.

“It says that our high crime rate and our high, high tax policies are not working and they’re causing people to leave our state and look for employment elsewhere,” he said. “You’ve got to fight crime and you’ve got to fight our high taxes, period.”

With the state’s job recovery rate since the pandemic also ranked near the bottom and much of its most recent hiring being driven by the government sector, McClure is clear about what he wants to see coming from Springfield.

“The governor in his budget proposed a billion dollars of new taxes and at the same time a billion dollars of new programs for people that are not citizens of our state,” he said. “So really, it’s a combination of rewarding people that are here already to make sure they stay here and making it more lucrative for people to come here.”

In the end, for things to really change, McClure argues voters need to be the change many of them insist they want to see.

“I think it’s going to come down to our elections,” he said. “We’ve got to send the message and get more Republicans in office. In the last election, we picked up a seat. More elections like that are gonna send the right message.”

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