CEOs placed the Illinois business environment the 48th out of 50 worst in which to do business, while Texas took the top position, according to Chief Executive magazine's annual Best & Worst States for Business survey.

The Best & Worst States for Business survey gauges the sentiment of CEOs on a variety of measures that they themselves have viewed as critical. These include the tax and regulatory regime, the quality of the workforce, and the quality of the living environment. The rankings are crucial, as CEO sentiment drives investments in offices, factories and other facilities that bring jobs to a region.

"Illinois continues to tax heavily and politicians continue to destroy opportunities for employees and businesses," responded one CEO. "It's a terrible combination which leads to the exodus we see in both families and businesses."

"It's time for state officials in Illinois to realize that their business strategy isn't working," said Marshall Cooper, CEO of Chief Executive magazine and "CEOs are highly concerned and the government must start listening to them or they will leave."

Texas and Florida top the list, as they have every year for the past 12 years that the survey has been conducted. Despite having been hit hard by the shale energy bust, Texas is still held in high esteem by CEOs for its favorable economic reforms. But each year, Florida steadily edges up in the qualitative measures. The Sunshine State added 1 million private-sector jobs over the last five years, cut taxes 50 times and got rid of 4,200 burdensome regulations. In 2014, it surpassed New York as the third-biggest state for companies to flourish.

North Carolina and Tennessee held onto their third and fourth places from last year, while Indiana moved up to fifth place and Arizona leapfrogged from ninth to sixth. South Carolina secured seventh place (up from 10th last year) while Georgia, Nevada and Ohio ranked eighth, ninth and tenth respectively.

This year's survey also asked CEOs who operate directly from a state whether they view it as better or worse than leaders with indirect experience. For the most part, the perceptions of CEOs with firsthand experience do not differ widely from overall perceptions of CEOs. There are some exceptions: Hawaii-, Alabama- and Mississippi-based leaders tend to rank their states as more friendly than do CEOs overall. Minnesota, Utah and Pennsylvania, on the other hand, get lower marks from CEOs with firsthand knowledge than from those without direct experience. Louisiana, which once ranked among the top 10, dropped to 37th place, the survey said.

According to the survey, CEOs indicate that the quality of workforce is just as important—in some cases more important than the tax environment. (Utah and Nebraska score highest in workforce quality among all the states.) 

The full report is at