We’re living in a very strange period in Illinois history. The budget impasse in Springfield carried on for over two years. And then it was all over yesterday after a bizarre day which saw a brief lockdown of the Illinois Capitol building due to a false hazardous materials scare. Income taxes are going up from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent, but the two-year stalemate has caused very real—and potentially permanent—damage to the state’s already precarious fiscal situation.
The state of the state’s finances has deeply affected Illinois higher education, nonprofit organizations, and social services. The historic budget impasse put a squeeze on Chicago Public Schools and the city’s universities, causing credit downgrades to these institutions and mass layoffs of staff. On the national stage, the situation made Illinois—a state already known for its political corruption and gridlock—look hopelessly dysfunctional.
Meanwhile in Chicago, there are 33 active construction cranes erecting tall towers which will deliver thousands of new rental apartments and hundreds of new hotel rooms to the greater downtown area. Dozens of new developments are under construction in the West Loop neighborhood and along the Milwaukee Avenue corridor, and the Chicago area continues to lead the nation in corporate investment—four years running.
There has been a tremendous amount of investment in Chicago made over the last several years, and it appears that this trend is expected to continue for at least the next couple. Considering the fragile state of the city and state’s economy, one might suspect that the region is not safe for investors, but instead, developers and major corporations seem to be tripping over each other to get into the city.
Is Chicago and Illinois finally back on track? Will we see the deep wounds of the historic budget impasse heal over the coming months or has the worst still yet to come? And specifically, how has this impasse affected you personally? Will we continue to see an uptick in investment in Chicago, or should we expect to see the market crash and burn once again?
- Open thread: How much longer will the current development boom last? [Curbed Chicago]