Bill Brady’s latest TV and radio spots are his most hard-hitting yet. He says that during Gov. Pat Quinn's tenure, Illinois has lost 215,000 jobs, experienced “near-record foreclosures,” and is now in $13 billion worth of debt.
Is Illinois’s economic picture as bad as Brady says it is? According to the statistics we looked at, pretty much. Verdict: Truthish. Here's why.
First, the jobs. Quinn took office as governor on Jan. 29, 2009, just as the recession was beginning to sink in. In that month, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois’s non-farm payroll was 5,819,900. In July 2010, the last month for which statistics are available, it was 5,601,700. That’s 218,200 jobs, actually more than Brady says it is.
But is that Quinn’s fault, or did he simply have the misfortune to become governor during a recession? Nationwide, the number of jobs decreased by .2 percent, compared to Illinois’s 3.8 percent. As an industrial state, Illinois has plenty of manufacturing jobs, one of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy. What Quinn could have done to prevent that -- say, by offering tax breaks to businesses -- is at the root of the philosophical debate between Democrats and Republicans.
What about the foreclosure claim? According to a press release from Foreclosure Deals, which tracks foreclosures around the nation, Illinois’s rate has increased “dramatically” since last summer:
The top 5 states for foreclosure totals, California, Florida, Michigan, Illinois and Arizona, all saw foreclosures increase during August by at least 7%, except for California, which saw its totals decrease slightly by 3.1%. Illinois saw a staggering monthly increase of 33% mainly in Chicago.
The states with the highest rates of foreclosure however, Arizona, Florida and Nevada, all saw a dramatic decrease in foreclosures from August of 2009. Other states saw their foreclosure rate increase dramatically during the same time period, including Michigan, up 128%; Illinois, up 35%; Maryland, up 35%; and Georgia, up 13%.
The rest of Brady’s ad recites well known facts, and mostly gets them right. Brady says Illinois is $13 billion in debt. Actually, the state has a $13 billion budget deficit, which is different. The ad says that Quinn wants to raise taxes. True. He has proposed increasing the state’s income tax from 3 percent to 4 percent. And it says the governor has given his staff raises. Also true, although at the same time, he required them to take more furlough days, wiping out some of the salary increase.
It’s hard to exaggerate the financial mess Illinois is in. Bill Brady doesn’t.