Dec 26, 2018

Editorial: How bad does the ‘Illinois Exodus’ have to get?

When he takes office in January, Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker will have fewer constituents than he might have expected. Unfortunately he’ll also have fewer constituents working and paying taxes to support Illinois’ state and local governments. Every time a worker departs, the tax burden on those of us who remain grows.

The release on Wednesday of new census data about Illinois was alarming: Not only has the flight of citizens continued for a fifth straight year, but the population loss is intensifying. This year’s estimated net reduction of 45,116 residents is the worst of these five losing years.

This is terrible news for House Speaker Michael Madigan and his cronies who in recent decades have steered the Illinois General Assembly toward higher taxes, rising public debt and anti-business policies that discourage employers from locating, expanding or just keeping their workforces here. Residents fed up with the economic climate here are heading for less taxaholic, jobs-friendlier states.

The new numbers confront Democrats who’ve run the legislature — and who keep raising taxes — with realities they’ll wiggle to explain but can’t deny: As the nation’s population expands, the populations of Illinois and eight other states are declining. On their watch, an Illinois once revered as a land of opportunity now is in decline.

More ominously, every other state in the Midwest is growing.

The most important numbers in the new federal statistics involve domestic migration — the number of people leaving Illinois for other states, such as Texas, Indiana and Wisconsin.

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