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Departing Chamber President: Politicians Not Doing Enough To Create Jobs

Amanda Vinicky

After twelve years as President of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Doug Whitley's retiring next year.

Whitley says he's leaving disappointed, as the latest data showed Illinois with the second highest unemployment in the nation, behind Nevada.

And he says political leaders haven't done enough about it, except for one - Chicago's mayor: "With the exception of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, I don't hear any other political leaders in our state talking about jobs, trying to recruit jobs, trying to announce new jobs and showing a sincere concern with unemployment," Whitley says.

Of course, plenty of politicians will take umbrage with that characterization. Gov. Pat Quinn, who's in a re-election battle, has been busily announcing taxpayer-funded construction projects he says will create jobs.

Whitley says he's also disappointed that the General Assembly has not overhauled Illinois' pension systems, which are underfunded by $100 billion.

Additionally, he says "it is disgraceful that the Illinois General Assembly continues year after year to pass budgets that are unbalanced. That we carry over billions of dollars of debt, we don't pay our bills on time, we don't pay local government grants on time, we don't pay vendors on time. And that's a destabilizing factor."

Whitley says companies - small and large - that do business with the state are forced to grin and bear it,"knowing full well that they are being taken advantage of, they are having to borrow money to operate, with a wish and a promise that eventually the state will pay its bills." He says some firms haven't been able to wait for that promise to come through, and were forced to shut down.

Illinois ended its last fiscal year in July with $6.1 billion in unpaid bills.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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