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Almost Half Of Illinois Residents Want Out, Survey Finds

By Stephen Gossett in News on Oct 13, 2016 3:00PM

Flickr / Photo: Jessica Spengler

Nearly half of Illinoisans want out of the state—and it’s not just a matter of wanderlust.

Researchers at the Paul Simon Institute at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale found that 47 percent of registered voters would like to move. Fifty-one percent said they wanted to say, with only two percent undecided.

Taxes were the number one reason cited (27 percent or respondents), with weather (16 percent), government (15 percent) and jobs and education (13 percent) following.

“There are lots of reasons why people want to leave,” David Yepsen, director of the Institute, said in a press release. “Not much can be done about the weather but policy makers can do something about perceptions of the quality of services, tax competitiveness, tax fairness and educational and job opportunities.”

“People often don’t feel they get good value for their tax dollars and with frequent stories of public corruption or the large numbers of governmental units, it’s no wonder why they feel that way,” Yepsen added.

Younger people are even more likely to want to bail, according to the survey: 57 percent of people under 35 would rather leave, while 58 percent between 35 and 50 indicated they’d prefer to leave the state.

“Policy-makers argue over whether people are leaving or not,” Yepsen said. “The most troubling finding in this poll is that so many younger people are thinking about it. That’s the state’s future.”

Here in Cook County, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council have passed a series of tax increases—including property and water/sewer hikes—in recent years in attempts to shore up unfunded pension liabilities. Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle is expected to include a sugary-drinks tax as part her budget proposal on Thursday. At the state level, Illinois' stopgap budget is due to expire shortly after the November elections.