Tales from the Illinois Exodus–Part Three

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Tales from the Illinois Exodus--Part Three

By John Ruberry

Gar­ri­son Keil­lor used to reg­u­larly begin his News From Lake Wobe­gon seg­ment on the Prairie Home Com­pan­ion with “It was a quiet week in Lake Wobegon.”

Because it was always quiet there.

And in regards to my con­tin­u­ing Tales from the Illi­nois Exo­dus series at Da Tech Guy, I should open each entry with, “It was a bad week in Illinois.”

But this past week was pretty wretched even on abysmal Prairie State standards.

A few days ago the US Cen­sus Bureau released pop­u­la­tion data for July, 2017 through July, 2018. The results are dev­as­tat­ing for the only state I’ve called home.

Illi­nois has 102 coun­ties–86 of them lost pop­u­la­tion dur­ing that time. Sure, many of them are rural and the peo­ple drain from rural areas is a long-​term trend nationwide.

What about Illi­nois’ met­ro­pol­i­tan areas?

For the first time in his­tory all ten Illi­nois metro areas lost pop­u­la­tion. One of them, Danville, saw the fourth largest pop­u­la­tion per­cent­age decline of the nearly 400 Census-​designated met­ro­pol­i­tan sta­tis­ti­cal areas. Cook County, where I live, some­times referred to Crook County (more on that later), was tops in peo­ple loss in sheer num­bers nation­ally.

When the decade began Illi­nois was the fifth-​most pop­u­lous state. A few years ago Penn­syl­va­nia passed us up.

Apol­o­gists for the sta­tus quo in ILL-​inois often point to coun­ties with large state uni­ver­si­ties as buck­ers of the over­all trend. And do you know what? None of those six­teen coun­ties that gained just a smat­ter­ing of res­i­dents included ones that are home to those big state col­leges. Illi­nois, America’s sixth-​largest state, has more units of gov­ern­ment than any other. Gee, I won­der why peo­ple are leav­ing? Gov­ern­ment has always been a growth indus­try here. But Sang­a­mon County, where Spring­field, the state cap­i­tal sits, is also suf­fer­ing from neg­a­tive pop­u­la­tion growth.

Here and there, a few down­state coun­ties saw some growth, along with some at the edge of the Chicago metro area. Although what are called the col­lar coun­ties – those that bor­der Cook–are expe­ri­enc­ing an over­all net pop­u­la­tion loss.

This is a dev­as­tat­ing diag­no­sis for Illinois.

Nation­ally 55 per­cent of America’s coun­ties saw growth. Just 16 per­cent of Illi­nois’ coun­ties did.

Who is leav­ing the Land of Lin­coln? Accord­ing to the Illi­nois Pol­icy Insti­tute, it’s the younger and the bet­ter edu­cated. That means of course, the money makers.

Two years ago Illi­nois hiked its per­sonal income tax rate from 3.75 per­cent to 4.95 per­cent. Illi­nois’ new Demo­c­ra­tic gov­er­nor, JB Pritzker, ran on the promise to switch Illi­nois from a flat tax income tax state to one with grad­u­ated rates, which will elim­i­nate the argu­ment used by the apol­o­gists that com­pared to other states, Illi­nois’ income tax rate is a lit­tle lower than most. Laugh­ingly, pro­po­nents of the new tax rates, which will require a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment for them to be enacted, are claim­ing that most Illi­noisans will enjoy a tax cut because the rate most peo­ple pay, will decline from 4.95 per­cent to – wait for it – 4.90 per­cent. Oh, don’t worry, if the new tax scheme is put in place that rate will go up. I know how Illi­nois is mis­ruled. And of course 4.90 per­cent is still a lot more than 3.75.

Nine states, includ­ing two with soar­ing growth, Florida and Texas, have no state income tax at all.

Illi­nois’ tax hikes are in fact a pub­lic pen­sion res­cue plan. Illi­nois’ pen­sion plans are among the worst funded of the fifty states.

As I’ve men­tioned a few times here, Illi­nois has lost pop­u­la­tion for five straight years.

It’s been a given for most of this decade that after the 2020 con­gres­sional reap­por­tion­ment that Illi­nois will lose a seat in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Now it’s appar­ent that Illi­nois will shed two.

When I was born Otto Kerner was gov­er­nor of Illi­nois. He was the first of four of our gov­er­nors who served time in fed­eral prison. Rod Blago­je­vich is still an inmate.

Oh, I almost for­got. The fall­out from the drop­ping of the charges against hate crime hoax­ter Jussie Smol­lett by Cook County State’s Attor­ney Kim Foxx con­tin­ues. Last week two top staffers, her chief ethics offi­cer and the direc­tor of her office’s Con­vic­tion Integrity Unit, resigned. Foxx’s top spokesper­son is gone too, it’s unclear whether she was fired or if she quit.

Smol­lett has proven that he is above the law, at least in Crook County.

Which brings me to a story one of my broth­ers told me about my late father. While con­sid­er­ing whether to accept an out of state job offer, my dad said, “Leave Illi­nois, this state is too cor­rupt for you.”

Why didn’t he give me that advice?

Cook County gov­ern­ment is headed by a pres­i­dent, the cur­rent office­holder is Toni Preck­win­kle. In her last con­tested gen­eral elec­tion Taxwin­kle trounced her Repub­li­can oppo­nent, Roger Keats. Shortly after­wards Keats moved to Texas and in his farewell let­ter he declared, “I am sick and tired of sub­si­diz­ing crooks.”

So am I. And so are the peo­ple leaving.

John Ruberry reg­u­larly blogs at Marathon Pun­dit.

By John Ruberry

Garrison Keillor used to regularly begin his News From Lake Wobegon segment on the Prairie Home Companion with “It was a quiet week in Lake Wobegon.”

Because it was always quiet there.

And in regards to my continuing Tales from the Illinois Exodus series at Da Tech Guy, I should open each entry with, “It was a bad week in Illinois.”

But this past week was pretty wretched even on abysmal Prairie State standards.

A few days ago the US Census Bureau released population data for July, 2017 through July, 2018. The results are devastating for the only state I’ve called home.

Illinois has 102 counties–86 of them lost population during that time. Sure, many of them are rural and the people drain from rural areas is a long-term trend nationwide.

What about Illinois’ metropolitan areas?

For the first time in history all ten Illinois metro areas lost population. One of them, Danville, saw the fourth largest population percentage decline of the nearly 400 Census-designated metropolitan statistical areas. Cook County, where I live, sometimes referred to Crook County (more on that later), was tops in people loss in sheer numbers nationally.

When the decade began Illinois was the fifth-most populous state. A few years ago Pennsylvania passed us up.

Apologists for the status quo in ILL-inois often point to counties with large state universities as buckers of the overall trend. And do you know what? None of those sixteen counties that gained just a smattering of residents included ones that are home to those big state colleges. Illinois, America’s sixth-largest state, has more units of government than any other. Gee, I wonder why people are leaving? Government has always been a growth industry here. But Sangamon County, where Springfield, the state capital sits, is also suffering from negative population growth.

Here and there, a few downstate counties saw some growth, along with some at the edge of the Chicago metro area. Although what are called the collar counties–those that border Cook–are  experiencing an overall net population loss.

This is a devastating diagnosis for Illinois.

Nationally 55 percent of America’s counties saw growth. Just 16 percent of Illinois’ counties did.

Who is leaving the Land of Lincoln? According to the Illinois Policy Institute, it’s the younger and the better educated. That means of course, the money makers.

Two years ago Illinois hiked its personal income tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent. Illinois’ new Democratic governor, JB Pritzker, ran on the promise to switch Illinois from a flat tax income tax state to one with graduated rates, which will eliminate the argument used by the apologists that compared to other states, Illinois’ income tax rate is a little lower than most. Laughingly, proponents of the new tax rates, which will require a constitutional amendment for them to be enacted, are claiming that most Illinoisans will enjoy a tax cut because the rate most people pay, will decline from 4.95 percent to–wait for it–4.90 percent. Oh, don’t worry, if the new tax scheme is put in place that rate will go up. I know how Illinois is misruled. And of course 4.90 percent is still a lot more than 3.75.

Nine states, including two with soaring growth, Florida and Texas, have no state income tax at all.

Illinois’ tax hikes are in fact a public pension rescue plan. Illinois’ pension plans are among the worst funded of the fifty states.

As I’ve mentioned a few times here, Illinois has lost population for five straight years.

It’s been a given for most of this decade that after the 2020 congressional reapportionment that Illinois will lose a seat in the House of Representatives. Now it’s apparent that Illinois will shed two.

When I was born Otto Kerner was governor of Illinois. He was the first of four of our governors who served time in federal prison. Rod Blagojevich is still an inmate.

Oh, I almost forgot. The fallout from the dropping of the charges against hate crime hoaxter Jussie Smollett by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx continues. Last week two top staffers, her chief ethics officer and the director of her office’s Conviction Integrity Unit, resigned. Foxx’s top spokesperson is gone too, it’s unclear whether she was fired or if she quit.

Smollett has proven that he is above the law, at least in Crook County.

Which brings me to a story one of my brothers told me about my late father. While considering whether to accept an out of state job offer, my dad said, “Leave Illinois, this state is too corrupt for you.”

Why didn’t he give me that advice?

Cook County government is headed by a president, the current officeholder is Toni Preckwinkle. In her last contested general election Taxwinkle trounced her Republican opponent, Roger Keats. Shortly afterwards Keats moved to Texas and in his farewell letter he declared, “I am sick and tired of subsidizing crooks.”

So am I. And so are the people leaving.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.