New Jersey gov. tries to woo Illinois businesses

February 4, 2011 8:45:33 PM PST
Weeks after launching an advertising campaign to lure Illinois companies out of state, the governor of New Jersey visited Chicago to personally invite business leaders east.

They have "The Sopranos." We've got Oprah.

They have the Giants. We've got the Bears.

When it comes to competing tax rates, however, New Jersey's governor says fughettaboutit. . .

"In New Jersey, they can be certain that over the next three years their taxes aren't going to go up," said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. "And in Illinois over the next three years, they can be certain their taxes will go up."

After Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law last month a nearly 67 percent tax hike, Republican Christie has been running ads in Illinois.

"Don't let Illinois balance its budget on the back of your business. Choose New Jersey. We mean business," says a radio ad.

"I don't think it's appropriate what he's doing in coming to Illinois in such a public fashion, in such an approach as to try to draw the business out of here," said Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford.

At 9 percent, New Jersey's tax on large and medium-sized businesses is comparable to Illinois' new 7 percent tax plus two-and-a-half percent personal replacement tax.

But Christie has promised cuts.

"After three more years of me and three more years of the governance out here, we'll be better," Christie says.

"We don't need other governors who really are just a bunch of complainers sometimes, instead of focusing on their own state, they have to go run down Illinois," Quinn said.

Christie's courting of Illinois businesses comes on the heels of similar moves by the governors of Indiana and Wisconsin, and some say Illinois should be worried.

"Governor Christie is fighting to lower the tax burden, lower the regulatory burden, and in Illinois we're increasing it," said CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute John Tillman.

Christie isn't saying which companies he's after but Northbrook-based Kraft confirms it declined an invitation to meet.

"If I come back with just one business, then that's one business more than I would've had if I didn't come to Chicago," Christie said.