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Reeder: Too many residents giving up on Illinois

Scott Reeder

Scott Reeder

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Updated: February 18, 2014 6:32AM



I love Illinois.

This is the state where I grew up, where I have chosen to raise my family and where I hope to spend the rest of my life.

At different points during my career, I’ve left the Land of Lincoln. But I have always returned because this is my home.

And it’s your home, too. So we have a shared interest in making our state better.

We may disagree on how to accomplish that, but we all have an interest in seeing Illinois improve.

Increasingly, people are finding that Illinois is not a state that offers the opportunities they want for themselves and their families.

Don’t believe me? Well, take a look at these numbers compiled by Jackson Adams, my colleague at the Illinois News Network:

Allied Van Lines said Illinois was one of its top five most outbound states, with 986 more moves out than moves in last year.

United Van Lines reported that Illinois was its second-most outbound state, with 2,251 more moves out than in during 2013. Illinois was United’s most outbound state in 2011.

Atlas Van Lines also reported Illinois as an outbound state, with 862 more moves out than in during 2013.

People who use moving companies often are taking part in corporate moves being paid for by their company.

The Illinois figures from the three major moving companies says a lot about where job opportunities are and where they aren’t. Last week, Moody’s Analytics ranked Illinois 50th among the states in projected job creation for this year.

Looking at those moving company numbers, it is clear that economic opportunity is flowing out of our state. So why is Illinois on the losing end of these migration patterns?

It’s tempting to blame our blustery winters for why people don’t want to live here.

The problem with that assumption is that some of the states doing better than Illinois have the same winters. For example, Indiana, which has an identical climate to Illinois, is rapidly attracting people.

Taxes are a major factor in determining where businesses grow and where people live. The Illinois Legislature’s decision to allow major personal and corporate income tax increases in 2011 made Illinois a far less attractive state for many corporations and individuals.

That could explain why jobs and people are steadily leaving Illinois. But that doesn’t mean we are without hope.

The temporary tax hike is slated to expire next year, which will have a positive effect on the state’s economy. Unfortunately, there are some who would like to see the tax increase extended or made permanent.

Others advocate for changing our current flat income tax rate to a graduated tax where those who earn more pay more in income tax.

Either move would further accelerate Illinois’ decline.

We love this state and want to see it prosper. Policies that encourage business growth and job creation and that relieve our tax burden and reward individual achievement will go a long way in preventing more people from packing up and leaving Illinois.

Now, if we could just import more of that Florida sunshine and those balmy breezes ...

Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse reporter and the journalist-in-residence at the Illinois Policy Institute, a nonprofit research group that supports the free market and limited government.



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