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Among an elected official's top priorities should be to promote an environment where the economy can thrive so businesses can grow jobs and families can flourish.

Too many elected officials in Illinois, sadly, do exactly the opposite.

Illinois already ranks poorly in most national studies examining states' friendliness to job creators and taxpayers.

And if the start of the 2019 legislative session is any indication of what's to come, things are only going to get worse.

Legislation already being considered in the General Assembly would:

• Ask voters to change the state Constitution to allow for a progressive income tax, which likely would result in higher rates for most wage earners, including small business owners. We don't know for sure though because supporters, including Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, aren't saying what the rates would be and at what income levels.

• Increase the state's minimum wage incrementally to $15 an hour, leading to job and hour reductions for the state's lowest-skilled workers.

• Increase the minimum wage for teachers incrementally to $40,000 a year, a move that likely would result in property tax increases, particularly in downstate school districts that would be impacted the most.

• Require the state's employers to provide paid maternity leave.

• Restrict what questions employers can ask prospective employees about their pay at previous jobs.

• Raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21, which will in particular hurt border retailers where consumers can simply cross state lines.

This is all on top of costly regulations put into place at the beginning of this year requiring gun retailers to install video surveillance and electronic record-keeping equipment. Instead of incurring thousands of dollars in new costs, some retailers told Illinois News Network they are closing their doors.

Any one of these new measures would negatively impact job creators, taxpayers or both. Collectively, they would be devastating.

Forbes magazine's 2018 Best States for Business analysis ranked Illinois 39th of the 50 U.S. states, pointing to the state's declining population due to out-migration, finances that are in "shambles," and worst credit rating in the country, just one notch above junk status.

In CNBC's similar ranking of America's Top States for Business, Illinois ranked 28th in 2018, behind neighbors Indiana (16), Iowa (18), Wisconsin (17) and Missouri (23) and ahead of only Kentucky (32). The cable business network gave Illinois an "F" grade for business friendliness (tied with three other states for last), and a D+ for its economy.

Another 2018 study, this one by the Illinois Civil Justice League, said lawsuit abuse in the state costs businesses $4.5 billion directly and another $7.7 billion in economic output every year, resulting in 81,000 fewer jobs annually. State government resists tort reform measures that would improve the legal environment.

Illinois also trails the rest of the country in wage growth since the Great Recession. The Pew Charitable Trusts shows national wage growth from late 2007 to the first quarter of 2019 was 1.6 percent, while Illinois’ income growth was only 0.7 percent, second worst in the U.S.

Nearly doubling the government-mandated minimum wage might artificially help that statistic temporarily, but only while simultaneously increasing the state's unemployment rate.

For decades, poor economic policies have directly resulted in the dismal fiscal climate Illinoisans live in today. Continued poor policies will only make things worse.

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Dan McCaleb is news director of Illinois News Network, a project of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, a non-profit media company dedicated to the principles of transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility. His columns include his own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinion or editorial position of The Southern. Contact Dan at dmccaleb@ilnews.org.

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