Illinois state Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) laments a growing trend in Illinois to which no state would want to lay claim.
“The number of people wanting to leave Illinois over the last year is growing, that means people are still having those conversations,” Halbrook told the Macon Reporter. “They’re having them and it’s not about the bad weather or that it’s still cold. They see this ever-growing pension liability as being future tax increases.”
A new study by news outlet NPR and the University of Illinois-Springfield details that 61 person of Illinois residents now readily admit that they’ve thought of leaving the state, with skyrocketing taxes being their primary reason. The results show an 8-percent increase over last year's study.
Illinois state Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) | Rep Halbrook website
More than one in four respondents, 27 percent, cited high taxes as the reason they want out, with the ratio of households earning upward of $100,000 leading the way at 68 percent. For many, the thought of getting out is more than just a pipe dream, as more than 157,000 residents have fled the state over the last five years, making Illinois the only state in the U.S. to suffer population losses in consecutive years.
Halbrook worries that the trend shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.
“The things that were put in place this summer as a result of the spring legislative session do nothing to stop the outmigration,” Halbrook said.
While Gov. J.B. Pritzker is selling the proposed progressive income tax as an increase on the state's highest earners and a benefit of everyone else, critics like Halbrook have condemned it as just another blank check for tax-heavy Democratic lawmakers.
“It’ll have a negative impact and serve as one more reason people make easier decisions to leave the state,” Halbrook said. “The No. 1 driver of all our debt is pension liability. We’ve got to have meaningful reform and not just window dressing.”