It’s A Time for Choosing Whether to Stay or Leave Illinois

The Illinois Policy Institute’s Michael Lucci wrote this last year:
“Gallup released a stunning poll that shows 50 percent of Illinoisans want to leave the state, the highest percentage of any state nationally. This comes a week after Illinois’ worst-in-the nation performance in a Gallup poll that showed one in four Illinoisans consider Illinois to be the worst possible place to live.

If Illinois government doesn’t change the way it does things, Illinois needs to brace for more out-migration.”

IPI reports that “Illinoisans are moving to states like Texas, Indiana, and Florida, and the biggest reasons include high Illinois tax rates and the impact of powerful government unions.”

In a 2014 study, IPI reported that “More than 850,000 people have moved out of Illinois since 1995, which comes out to a rate of 1 resident leaving every 10 minutes”!

What about the people willing to stay? We spoke with two Illinoisans about why they’re not moving – and what they see as the cure for what ails the Land of Lincoln.

In both cases, the names are changed at the request of the speaker. Why did they ask to remain anonymous? While many Illinoisans might think that political retribution is something that exists only within Democratic Party politics, long time veterans of the Illinois GOP know well the decades-long tradition of revenge taken out against anyone who dares criticize the powers that be.

Rebekah is a business owner, wife, mother, and for the first time in the past few years has become a political activist.

“I never thought I’d move out of the state – but before Rauner got elected I was actually starting to think about it,” she said.

“It’s simple: everyone knows in their personal life and in business that you can’t continue to spend more than you take in as Illinois’ government does.”

When asked to comment on what the solution might be, Rebekah answered, “Let me not answer the question just yet. Just let me talk for a little bit. To me, there is some hopelessness that has developed.”

Here are her words:
I feel like we’re set up to fail. That we’re going to continue to fail.

So yes, there is hopelessness. You look at the number of men in their fifties who have lost their jobs. I know many of them. Then we have the generation just starting their working life – and for the first time you have the young people coming out of college with ungodly school loans. You also have people well into their 30s and even 40s still paying on their school loans.

When I was thirty I was saving money for a down payment on a house.

Worse, those young people are coming out of school and there aren’t a lot of jobs available. The economy has been stagnant for many years.

Of course a lot of this has to do with Obamacare. In my own company I can’t afford to offer health care benefits. Fortunately most of my employees only want to work part time.

We’ve got all these policies that keep us from growing. Economic growth used to be driven by individual initiative – these days you can’t just open up a business and hire a bunch of people. There’s too much control over every single thing we do.

It’s the sum total of these things that creates a sense of hopelessness.

I have a college-aged kid who didn’t want to vote – and I’m involved politically! He didn’t want to vote because he didn’t believe it made any difference. His attitude is – ‘This country stinks.’

So I show him what happened in the election of Bruce Rauner. I worked my butt off – night after night after night. I work full time, I’m an elected township trustee, I have a family, yet I worked like crazy up until election day. Rauner won. It does make a difference. You just have to step up.

Taxpayers despair because of the burden placed on them. Americans that work one or more jobs are put upon because there are just too many handouts available for others – even to those who are here on work visas. For example, in the Wisconsin tourism industry, many unemployed local residents can’t afford to work for $10 or $15 dollars an hour, so Russians and other eastern Europeans are brought in.

Big government policies have impacted our culture – people receiving government benefits too often settle into a comfortable lifestyle.

What I’d like to see is for anyone getting welfare or paid by tax dollars to not be able to vote. What we have are millions of people going to the polls to vote themselves higher pay!

We just can’t keep funding everything there is known to mankind. We can’t afford it. Our kids can’t afford it. We’ve got to stop the spending, but that won’t happen until more people step up and get involved.

The other person we spoke with has worked both in the business world and has had a foot inside Illinois politics for many years. Let’s call him James.
We asked for his take on the state of the state – and what you see as the solution:

The new Republican governor seems to have frozen the system – people are st anding still. Bruce Rauner’s staff is not giving him good advice. He’s got counselors that don’t understand that the environment has changed.

With this budget impasse, I don’t see a scenario where Rauner succeeds. He’s certainly not winning thus far when 91 percent of state spending is court ordered or otherwise automatic.

I’ve seen nothing when it comes to the needed structural reforms – where the money is – Medicaid, K-12 and higher ed, state pensions – there’s nothing changing, in fact, the schools received more money with Rauner’s help.

Regarding the issues of the re-map, tort reform, and workman’s comp, Madigan will want a tax increase for any deal. That will make it impossible for Rauner to win reelection because he won’t have fundamentally changed anything. He won’t have done anything about the big ticket items.

Yes, there are still three full years left, but he needs to stop playing small ball. You can’t give the teachers more money and the unions a good deal.

The truth is, people were expecting (Wisconsin Governor) Scott Walker. They were expecting more progress, but Walker has a Republican General Assembly.

What it really looks like is a guy who had the money to get himself elected governor, but then hired some of the same old political crew that has presided over many years of Republican Party failures in Illinois.

What’s needed is for state house and state senate Republicans to form a freedom caucus, and propose serious structural reform ideas for the big ticket items. Pensions, debt, medicaid, K-12 and higher ed.

They need to take it to the people of the state – sell it as a contract – a way to solve the state’s problems. Currently, they’re not putting anything out there.

Some might suggest that they lack the intellectual firepower to offer alternatives, and there sure doesn’t appear to be the political will to lead – certainly not with the GOP caucus leadership. They think that if you’re in the minority party you don’t offer alternatives since the majority will then just use the material as target practice.

I think they should offer alternative solutions – make it interesting – give the citizenry something to consider.

It needs to be generated from within the GOP caucuses. It’s hard to ask a single legislator to stand up. There has to be a lot of work done behind the scenes – to bring colleagues on board, to craft policies – so they can say to the public we don’t have to do it the old way – “here is an alternative.”

When did we become a state where only a handful of people decide everything? The sum total of public policy creativity resides with five or six people.

Legislators used to work collectively. It wasn’t just the leadership shoving things down everyone’s throat.

These leaders have too much power – stipends, assistant leadership roles, committee assignments. That prevents “mini caucuses” from forming – it prevents groups of legislators taking the initiative.

Instead of complaining – legislators need to step up. It’s been too long since rank and file legislators have challenged their leaders. It can’t be done from the outside. It has to be done from the inside.