Column: ‘Pay to play’ fosters the growing Illinois exodus – Chicago Tribune

Illinois has a numbers problem.

It might be related to the increasing amount of federal court convictions in corruption cases, but it’s the growing number of residents who flee the Land of Lincoln for other states.

You may be one of those who agree with Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other politicians who believe the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 head count for Illinois was sketchy.

After all, federal bureaucrats first said the state lost some 240,000 residents in the 2020 census, then announced the state lost only 18,000 people. Last year, they reversed themselves again, saying the state actually gained 250,000 people.

But then the bureau recently said the Illinois population dropped by 113,776 residents. Perhaps these folks need to go back to math class, or use abacuses for their head counts.

The latest numbers maintain Lake County saw 3,010 residents leave, while DuPage County lost 5,547 and Cook County 68,314, apparently the second-most in the nation. The Census Bureau says Illinois, New York and California metro areas all lost more population last year. Despite wacky governors and pols, Arizona, Florida and Texas saw the greatest population gains.

If you doubt the census numbers, other surveys point out Illinois truly is losing population. Last year, United Van Lines said they moved 8,157 people out of Illinois noting, “the net migration rate out of the state remains high and projected population growth is negative.”

Last week, ABC7 aired a report studying relocation trends by analyzing U.S. Postal Service change-of-address forms. They found that over the last five years, more people left the Chicago metro area than moved in for a net loss of at least 294,000 people. Only New York City and San Francisco saw bigger population declines, the TV report said.

In another recent study, the Wall Street Journal looked at Internal Revenue Service data that showed a net 105,000 people left Illinois in 2021, taking with them some $10.9 billion in asset capital. That figure is up from $8.5 billion in 2020, and $6 billion in 2019.

One estimate is that last year Illinois lost one resident every three minutes and 42 seconds. What causes folks to pull up stakes in the Prairie State and head to other locales?

Most will say high taxes, cost of living and crime. Others point to the “pay-to-play” level of corruption which is endemic in Illinois. That reason comes even before the weather in many surveys of why émigrés leave Illinois.

Like the weekslong federal corruption trial of the “ComEd 4,″ which ended the other day with a jury finding the defendants guilty. Jurors determined the four were involved in a conspiracy using ghost hires and other perks to get in good graces with the clout-heavy former House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

That was in order to smooth the utility’s legislative agenda through the legislature, federal prosecutors argued. Madigan faces his own trial on similar corruption charges next year.

Following the jury’s verdict, Acting U.S. Attorney Morris “Sonny” Pasqual told reporters: “The state of Illinois unfortunately has a deep-seated public corruption problem, corruption that erodes and eats away at the people’s confidence in their government and in their elected officials.”

Dozens of Illinois lawmakers and local officials have been indicted and convicted of graft in federal corruption trials. Once elected, they seem to turn into grifters, with their hands out, seeking free money for themselves and political payrollers.

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Since 1961, the state has had 11 governors. Four of them — Rod Blagojevich, Otto Kerner and Dan Walker of Deerfield, all Democrats, and Republican George Ryan — did prison time after public corruption trials. Of course, Illinois is not the only state known for its corruption.

A Washington Post story a couple of years ago pegged Illinois as the second-most corrupt state in the nation after New York. Others making the WaPo “sinful six” list were Louisiana, Alabama, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

One of the jurors in the “ComEd 4″ trial told the assembled media scrum afterward: “We want politics to run in a correct manner. And we would really like the government to know that we as citizens all want to see that done in a correct manner, without any shady business behind the scenes that either skirts the rules or blatantly disregards them.”

Who doesn’t want that? Until our elected leaders start restoring trust in government or voters elect those who share their values of clean government, those moving vans will continue to be packed up and ready to head out of Illinois.

Charles Selle is a former News-Sun reporter, political editor and editor.

Twitter: @sellenews


via “Illinois Politics” – Google News

May 8, 2023 at 02:50PM

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