From the diaries
A recent report by the Census Bureau shows that Pennsylvania has surpassed Illinois in population. Once the fifth most populous state, it has dropped in the rankings.
This has important consequences when it comes to federal funding formulas and, of course, the number of representatives in Washington. At its current rate, given gains elsewhere in the country, Illinois is projected to lose 2 House seats (Texas is the big winner gaining a projected 5 seats).
Illinois, like many blue states, is beset by mounting fiscal problems. Worse, their many public employee unions are resistant to any solutions that would alleviate those problems and the mounting debt.
Residents of Chicago alone are on the hook for $250 billion in debt issued by four different agencies. Besides the city itself, there is Cook County and the state also. The debt is the result of lucrative pension promises made to public union employees and decades of failing to meet those promises.
Part of the problem and how it festered for so long is that officials hid the figures for so long out of political expediency. Just this year, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel projected a $114 million budget shortfall that failed to account for the $70 million needed to hire more police officers.
The true deficit stands at about $250 million, not counting the school system. When Emmanuel asked for possible solutions, one alderman- Raymond Lopez- suggested “super ticket writers-” someone who would issue tickets for value of life violations.
From 2016 to 2017, seven states lost population. Illinois was the worst at 33,703. According to officials in the state, it is usually the rural areas of the state that show population declines. But, the population in Chicago has been falling for the past two years now. Of those 33,703 people who fled Illinois in the past year, greater than 19,000 came from the greater Chicago area.
In fact, Chicago is the only American metropolis to show a population decline. And the problem is specific to Illinois, not regional. Every surrounding state saw a population increase.
Being a blue state, the natural reaction by the leaders of Illinois and Chicago is to increase taxes. This past summer, the state increased their state income tax rate with calls for further increases to meet the mounting spending demands. Illinois has a lower state income tax rate than states like New York and California, however they are also under the yoke of heavy local, county and other state taxes.
With passage of the tax reform bill and the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, the problem is even more dismal for Illinois taxpayers. Statistics show that residents of the greater Chicago area deduct an average of $4,000 to $8,000 on their federal income taxes annually, depending on which county they reside.
Local governments are looking for new things to tax to make up for budget shortfalls. Soda and carbonated drinks are a likely target. The city of Chicago has already slapped a 30% surcharge on resident’s sewer bill with the money earmarked for the pension systems, not infrastructure upgrades.
While the new tax reform bill will likely hit the more wealthy residents the hardest which may cause some celebration on the Left, it really only exacerbates the problem. Chicago is the only major city in the United States that is losing its wealthier population for it is the wealthy who have the greatest ability to vote with their feet.
One study conducted showed that Chicago alone lost more millionaires (3,000) in one year than did all of Russia.
In fact, it lost more millionaires than Athens, Greece which is surprising given Greece’s fiscal woes. This study noted that when a city bleeds millionaires, it is usually not good news. They not only are the ones with the greatest means to get out of Dodge, but they are also the ones liberals look to to bail them out fiscally.
The moral of the story: You can only get so much blood from a stone before the stone up and moves.
It is possible that the loss or cap on the SALT deduction, the loss of federal funding or the loss of representatives in Washington will shock the state in general and the Chicago area in particular to make the necessary reforms to bring fiscal sanity back. But, given the intransigence of the public worker unions- not to mention the proposed “solutions” thus far- the outlook is not good. So far, the “soak the rich” solution has paid zero dividends and caused the rich to flee the state.
The state is paying the cost of years of neglect and ignorance when not outright covering up their fiscal woes for political expediency. One can look at population projections for the 2020 Census and see that traditional red states are expected to gain a net 8 seats in the House.
That alone should tell Illinois something, but this writer doubts it.