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Lynn Sweet asks Washington State, Nebraska govs about poaching Illinois jobs

Video courtesy Politico

WASHINGTON–After Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a state income tax hike –raising the rate for business to 7 percent from 4.8 percent — the individual rate rises to 5 percent from 3 percent — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels–all Republicans– pitched Illinois business to move to their states. Christie was the most aggressive, running newspaper and radio ads in Illinois and stopping earlier this month at the Union League Club in Chicago.

At the National Governors Association winter meeting here, I asked several governors if these sales calls were unseemly; after all, the tables could be turned on them.

“It’s all going on right now already. I just did it publicly,” Christie told me. “You don’t think it’s going on privately in every state? It absolutely did. [Former Pennsylvania] Gov. [Ed] Rendell poached an enormous amount of business from New Jersey during his time as governor. This stuff happens all the time privately, I just did it publicly.”

Daniels told me, “I think it is the most appropriate thing we do . . . build a good business climate and go find people who want to take advantage of it.”

At the opening session press conference on Saturday, I asked Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat and the NGA chair, what she thought of governors coming to Illinois to steal jobs.

“Going over and stealing from someplace else really isn’t the future for them,” Gregoire said. “Their future is building their own economic stability inside their state . . . my policy as governor is anybody who wants to come to Washington State is welcome. I am not out trying to steal a company from my colleagues.”

NGA co-chair, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman responded that it is okay to poach “I believe in competition among the states and among the countries.” He then gave out his phone number.