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

Brian Mackey
WUIS/Illinois Issues

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.

Brian Mackey reports on the different ways Gov. Bruce Rauner and parts of his administration describe the economy.

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.

Copyright 2017 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Brian Mackey covers Illinois state government and politics from the WUIS Statehouse bureau. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. He can be reached at (217) 206-6020.
Brian Mackey
Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.