Monday, May 30, 2016

Are People Really Leaving Illinois?

If I see disaster, will you vote for me?
Factless Soothsayers: Representative Sandack,  the I.P.I. & Bruce Rauner

My neighbors and their “millennial” children living in the basement are leaving Illinois for Indiana.  They’ve had enough, they tell me.  “The taxes, Madigan, the Obamas…”

They’ll be happier there and better off, they tell me over an afternoon beer.  And almost an hour closer to their slip in Grand Haven where they spend much of their time sailing. 

They’re recently retired (and so are their children – not-so-recently).

So, one more Illinois resident family leaves and becomes another statistic in the ongoing argument that Illinoisans are fleeing the state of Illinois in Biblical proportions.  Look back and turn to salt?

I often drive on the Southside expressways, so I commonly see the signs welcoming all of us to Indiana, and the puffed-up promises of a better life in a state where the median income is 31st as contrasted to Illinois’ 18th position according to U.S. Census’s Bureau reports.  But it is appearances that are dressed as reality that humans swallow in American politics.

I’ve heard first-term governor Rauner’s constant pitches that we are “losin’ people to our neighborin’ states.” 

Are we?  Have we been?  I’ve wondered…

Rauner echoes the arguments of his close allies in the Illinois Policy Institute, and Representative Ron Sandack (81st District) who all follow this line of argument like a phalanx of myrmidons.

“The wealthy will leave, I tell ya!  And then, we’ll be left to pay the increased taxes,” Representative Sandack urged at a recent meeting I attended when he was asked about a graduated tax policy. 

For Representative Sandack and many others like the governor, so many issues will result in people’s mass exodus to other places: pension issues, workman’s comp., union power, local rule, etc.

Yet, new evidence and research from Natalie Davila, Mike Klemens, Robert Ross, and Lyman Stone from KDM Consulting notes quite the opposite of the argumentative positions of the current governor, the I.P.I., and Representative Ron Sandack.

Disaster?  You ain't seen nothin' yet.
In fact, in trying to ascertain whether or not there was some accuracy in the governor’s and his backers’ positions about Illinois citizens’ out-migration, they reviewed the numbers carefully. 

Because of the recently available records of tax information and census information from earlier periods in the previous century, the researchers were able to crunch the numbers of people leaving, the income strata of those who did, and the in-migration to Illinois of those before not calculated in these late arguments.
Significant findings:

1.    Net out-migration for Illinois is not new.  The state has seen net out-migration every year but one since 1925.
2.    Illinois net-migration is overstated if international migration is ignored.  Otherwise migrants from other countries are not counted when they move to Illinois, but are counted when they move out of Illinois to other parts of the country.  Including international migration reduces net migration out of Illinois by one-third.
3.    Both in-migration and out-migration are tied to the economic cycle.  People move when times are good and sit tight when they are bad.  The 2011 income tax rate increases came as Illinois was moving out of a recession, and migration could have been expected to increase.
4.    Many migrants don’t move far.  Illinois’ largest out-migration is to Indiana.  Indiana’s and Wisconsin’s largest out-migration is to Illinois.
5.    Illinois is a big state in terms of population so out-migration in absolute numbers is large.  However, a larger percentage of both Indian’s and Wisconsin’s population moves to Illinois than vice versa.
6.    Net out-migration from Illinois to Indiana and Wisconsin has declined.
7.    Illinois net out-migration rates fell in 2011, the first year of the income tax increase, but increased significantly in 2014.

I’ve bolded these findings because they are SO opposite the constant harangue by Rauner, the I.P.I. or Rep. Sandack.

This new research report indicates that all the arm flailing, screaming, and eye-bulging philippic by Representative Ronald Sandack may be just so much delirium aimed at the masses.  Mass hysteria, if you will.

From Sandack’s website:
“The data reflects a continuation of a trend of out-migration from Illinois that has lasted more than a decade. Between 1995 and 2009, the state lost on a net basis more than 806,000 people to out-migration.
When people leave, they take their income and their talent with them. In 2009 alone, Illinois lost residents who took with them a net of $1.5 billion in taxable income. From 1995 to 2009, Illinois lost out on a net of $26 billion in taxable income to out-migration…” 

I'll be the only one left here…really.
Someone’s wrong.

And the Illinois Policy Institute, always willing to be one more serviceable haruspex when it comes to promising immediate catastrophe for all Illinois’’ citizens unless they stampede to the far right. 

Illinois residents are fleeing the state. When people leave, they take their purchasing power, entrepreneurial activity and taxable income with them. For more than 15 years, residents have left Illinois at a rate of one person every 10 minutes.”
Imagine Indiana’s and Wisconsin’s to Illinois?  I suggest you read the report.  I suggest Representative Sandack read it, too.
Illinois has enough problems and issues.  We, all of us – yes, even state workers – now owe $billions for money that was diverted and used in order to provide all citizens with benefits and services to avoid the true costs.  No gimmicks or film-flams will fix it; instead, the solutions will be found in seriously looking at the state's structural deficit problem and medieval tax policies.  The politicians in Illinois’ General Assembly will try to avoid facing this issue with every breath they have left.  And Rauner, the I.P.I. and Sandack-like characters will try to find some way, any way, to blame a select group for the decades of mismanagement rather than find an honest solution.   

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