Tag: pat quinn

States Pursue Tort Reform to Boost Economy, Jobs

Legislatures across the country are working to enact civil justice reforms to improve their business climates, attract investment and encourage job creation. A round-up:

TENNESSEE

Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee included a package of reforms in his legislative recommendations, calling for a $750,000 cap on non-economic damages, such as pain and emotional suffering, and limiting punitive damages to $500,00. The bill also discourages venue shopping.

The bill (SB1522) was heard in committee on Wednesday, and the media predictably highlighted the comments of former Sen. Fred Thompson, hired by the trial lawyers to lobby against the bill. A new business group, Tennesseans for Economic Growth, has formed to promote the reforms. From its release:

“Our current civil justice system in Tennessee is seriously flawed because it threatens current business owners and jobs creators with unlimited exposure to litigation,” said Doug Buttrey, who has been named Executive Director of TEG. “This flaw in our civil justice system also puts Tennessee at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting new businesses and jobs, especially since our state is one of the few in the Southeast which has yet to rein in lawsuit abuse through tort reform.”

“Tennesseans for Economic Growth believes it is critical that every citizen has access to the civil courts and that medical expenses be fully compensated. It is equally critical that damage awards do not spin out of control and become beyond reason,” Buttrey continued.

Doctors are also advocates for the reforms.

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made tort reform the keystone of his early legislative efforts, winning passage of a package of civil justice improvements during the special session. (Shopfloor, Jan. 28, “Gov. Walker Signs Tort Reform Package in Wisconsin.” However, union groups have turned the April 5th Supreme Court race into a referendum on Gov. Walker’s collective bargaining reforms, and the trial lawyers are joining in the hopes their hand-picked candidate will overturn the tort reform law from the bench. (See our Point of Law post, “Wisconsin Supreme Court election: a referendum on tort reform, too.“)

OKLAHOMA

In Oklahoma, long-frustrated reforms now appear headed for passage in the Legislature and signing into law by new Gov. Mary Fallin. Last week, the major measure, passed the House by a vote of 57-40, the State Chamber of Oklahoma reports: (continue reading…)

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State Tax Climates, Competitiveness, and Alas, Poor Illinois

In our continuing coverage of State of the State addresses today, we noted these comments from governors of two very different states, New Jersey and Mississippi.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: “If we cannot shed regulations, reduce spending, and hold the line on taxes, we cannot attract and create the jobs our citizens so desperately need.”

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour: “[Our] goal has to be to grow our economy faster than the nation as a whole, and we can do it. We have to focus on our advantages: low taxes, a friendly business climate, rational regulation, abundant natural resources and especially a first rate, affordable work force.”

Now comes Illinois, where lame-duck lawmakers approved Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to balance the state budget and raised the personal income tax by 67 percent! The state’s business tax will go up by 46 percent! The Huffington Post reports that, according to the The Tax Foundationthe hike would force Illinois businesses to pay the highest combined national-local corporate tax rate in the industrialized world.

From The Chicago Tribune, “Quinn congratulates Democrats on income tax increase“:

A triumphant Gov. Pat Quinn congratulated fellow Democrats early today after the Illinois Senate and House sent him a major income tax increase without a single Republican vote in favor.

Quinn smiled and shook hands on the floor of the Senate around 1:30 a.m. after the Senate voted 30-29 for the bill, which would raise the personal income tax-rate by 67 percent and the business income tax rate by 46 percent.

If it’s a triumph, it’s of the Phyrric sort. Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana made two telling observations in interviews as reported in The Herald-Review, “Indiana governor says Illinois tax hike would be good news for his state“:

  • “We already had an edge on Illinois in terms of the cost of doing business, and this is going to make it significantly wider.”
  • “Folks in Illinois will eventually have to decide: Is this working well enough for us or do we want some-thing different? Point one of our anti-recession strategy here is to avoid doing what they’ve now decided to do.”
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States of the State: Illinois

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, gave his State of the State address on Wednesday in Springfield. (Transcript.) Here’s his sole, specific reference to manufacturing.

One thing about the sustainable economy, or the green economy, or investing in renewable energy, is it brings in jobs that create prosperity. Siemens, which is an internationally‐known company, came to Elgin this year. They’re building gears for these giant wind turbines, manufacturing it right in our own back yard. So we have to grab this opportunity and develop the green economy for jobs for the people of Illinois.

I think there are many other ways to do this. But I think it is important as we take a look at our economy to understand that jobs follow brainpower. And we can never forget that. That it’s very, very important for all of us in Illinois to invest in education, from beginning of life to the end of life. 

See also the office’s highlights. Apparently the Governor did not have a prepared text, instead speaking from notes. That’s very unusual and prompted  this columnist’s harsh critique.

Quinn became Governor last year after the impeachment of Rod Blagojevich.

 For earlier posts on State of State addresses, go here.

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