How's The Illinois Economy? For Rauner Administration, Depends On The Audience

Oct 16, 2017
Originally published on October 23, 2017 1:34 pm

Gov. Bruce Rauner has spent much of the past few years bad-mouthing the Illinois economy — saying his agenda would turn things around. But not everyone in his administration is sounding the alarm.

Rauner has long professed a dour view of the Illinois economy.

“Very low economic growth," he said to a business group last year. "Lot of job losses. Lower family incomes. Decline. Slow, gradual decline.”

But sometimes, people in the Rauner administration are at odds with the Rauner assessment.

“Illinois remains the economic powerhouse of the Midwest and continues to grow," Kelly Hutchinson, from the governor’s budget office, said last week. She cited "strong real GDP per capita ... declining unemployment, and growing* per capita income."

The difference? She was making a presentation to investors looking into an upcoming Illinois bond sale.

Unlike a political speech, financial statements are governed by federal regulations and have to be accurate.

By the numbers, the Illinois economy hasn’t seen any huge swings during Rauner's nearly three years in office.

But even the governor has been softening his critique, as he goes overseas on trade missions — and campaigns for reelection.

Correction | Oct. 23, 2017: An earlier version of this story included a transcription error that misreported the Budget Office assessment that Illinois has "growing per capita income." Return to the corrected sentence.

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