Host Joel Weisman, at about 7:35 of this clip, brought up the subject of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's "turnaround agenda."
"They're sluggin' it out in Springfield," Weisman said. "What Rauner wants are things like workers' comp reform, tort reform." When Weisman posited that "It doesn't seem like it's germane to the [budget] necessarily," Mr. Dold replied (my emphasis):
It's germane to the disaster of this state. The overall economic basis of this state is flawed; it's failed. We need to change that, and workers' comp and tort reform are a piece of that. Overall Rauner wants to create an environment in the state more like you see in Indiana, Iowa and other Midwestern states that draw employers.
But does correlation necessarily imply causation?
That was the question Mr. Weisman and another panelist, Laura Washington of the Chicago Sun-Times and ABC-7 News, asked Mr. Dold.
"Where are the numbers to support that?" Ms. Washington asked.
Dold answered that "Unemployment is lower in just about every state around. Most of those states have taken steps like that."
When Ms. Washington pressed him, "How can you connect to changing workers' comp directly to lowering unemployment?," Mr. Dold finally conceded it was all about "leverage."
But as long as we're on the subject of "the overall economic basis of this state," as Mr. Dold put it, just how bad is Illinois' economy vis-a-vis its neighbors? You sure hear a lot of talk about it from people like Gov. Rauner and the Republicans.
I suppose you could look at any number of statistics, but let's start with some basic ones, like GDP. How does Illinois compare with its immediate neighbors? Turns out, not so bad:
List of U.S. states by GDP, 2015
No. 5, Illinois, $742 billion
No. 16, Indiana, $328 billion
No. 20, Wisconsin, $293 billion
No. 30, Iowa, $174 billion
Illinois' GDP is more than twice that of Indiana? Wow.
Now, I know what you're thinking: Oh, sure, but Illinois is so much larger than its neighbors. What about per capita GDP?
List of U.S. states by GDP per capita, 2012
No. 16, Illinois
No. 23, Iowa
No. 29, Wisconsin
No. 31, Indiana
What else can we look at? How about income?
List of U.S. states by income, 2014
No. 18, Illinois
No. 21, Wisconsin
No. 24, Iowa
No. 31, Indiana
Now those are just a few statistics, and I'm sure the Illinois Policy Institute could come back with a veritable blizzard of its own to prove just how bad
But my question is, especially after looking at those three figures above: When it comes to policy, should Illinois be emulating its neighbors, or is it the other way around?