The latest state population numbers are in, and, once again, they reflect the serious problems facing the State of Illinois.
Population in the Land of Lincoln fell by more than 50,000 from July 2018 to July 2019. The previous year it fell by more than 55,000.
Those are just two of six straight years of population decline, and, despite our elected officials’ penchant for ignoring what’s going on, it’s should be a source of major concern.
Is it? Impossible to say. Indeed, state government appears to be on auto-pilot, doing the same things that got the state in trouble over and over again.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker contends that raising income taxes — among many others — via his proposed progressive income tax constitutional amendment is a long-term, surefire cure for what ails Illinois.
But if people are leaving because they already think taxes are too high, as they have indicated in public opinion polls, why should anyone believe that higher and higher taxes will not only not stem the tide but make the state more attractive to newcomers?
Illinois’ population stands at about 12.7 million. But it’s losing ground. Once the fifth-most populated state, it’s already fallen to No. 6 behind Pennsylvania.
It stands to lose at least one member of its delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives — perhaps two — following the 2020 decennial census. That impending decline means that our state will have less influence in Washington as compared to other states.
It also means that our state will have fewer people to pay taxes and lower incomes on which to base the taxes paid, even as state officials continue their Springfield spending spree.
Wirepoints.com, a financial news and analysis website that focuses on Illinois, reports that over the past two years “the state’s tax base shrunk by $6.8 billion and $5.6 billion respectively, as those who left took their incomes with them.”
It estimated those who left in 2018 represented a decline of “$5.6 billion in lost Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)” that “cost the state approximately $230 million in additional income tax revenue.”
“That number doesn’t include the millions in sales, property, gas, and other taxes that weren’t collected as a result of fewer people living in Illinois,” Wirepoints stated.
Here’s the real kicker for those who doubt the seriousness of the problem.
While all the states bordering Illinois have been steadily gaining population, Illinois has been steadily losing it.
What are they doing that Illinois is not? Well, for starters, they haven’t spent themselves into effective bankruptcy. They aren’t presiding over an economic climate that is hostile to job creators.
Illinois is getting by for now. It’s enjoying a historically low unemployment rate that’s been dragged steadily downward by a strong national economy. But recoveries don’t last forever. Eventually, the economy will slow, and then, owing to its financial weakness and an apparent refusal to do anything substantive to change it, Illinois will be in even bigger trouble.
The exodus will grow at an even faster rate, leaving fewer and fewer of us to do what’s necessary to keep this state barely afloat.
The (Champaign) News-Gazette