By: Mark Glennon

You’d think we’d be past this, but we are not. The same voices that have denied Illinois’ horrendous trajectory for years are still at it.

The latest example is Tuesday’s article by Greg Hinz on the state’s population loss, which is now seven years old and accelerating, according to last month’s Census Bureau estimate. Hinz is Crain’s political reporter and commentator.

“Political spinners had a first-class feast” on the new census number, Hinz wrote, and he proceeded to give us his alternative views. Because Hinz is not alone in much of his denial, it’s worth going through this point by point.

  • Hinz quarreled with a claim that politicians, “Instead of looking for more in taxes, should fix the state’s finances,” particularly underfunded government pension plans. No, argued Hinz, reversing the state’s population loss will require lots more than a tax cut, and the population issues are complex.

For starters, I’ve never seen a single person claim that tax cuts alone would restore growth. Government incompetence, bloat, graft, crime, broad moral decay and more have Illinoisans fed up, and Illinoisans are finding better opportunities elsewhere — which is a consequence of all the foregoing. Hinz attacked a straw man and ignored the very wording of the quote he disagreed with.

If Hinz really wanted to measure what role high taxes are playing, you’d think he’d at least mention the obvious – what people say. About half of Illinoisans say they want to move and taxes are their number one reason. That’s according to the last poll on the question, conducted by the Paul Simon Institute in 2016. Tax discontent is no doubt worse today because, since 2016, the income tax was permanently increased, property taxes soared and a range of higher sales taxes and fees have been imposed.

  • Hinz says Illinois’ population loss is really no big deal because the gains in other major industrial states have been small.

There is no scenario for restoring Illinois to stability – none – that does not include growth, which requires growing both the population and tax base concurrently. Regardless of whether you think the shrinkage is small or large, it just won’t work. And Illinois’ population loss makes it an outlier. The chart below is from our special report last year on Illinois’ population loss. This is no small problem:

  • Part of Illinois’ population decline is due to the drop in immigration during the Trump Administration, Hinz says, noting that population isn’t just a matter of people fleeing but of net international and domestic migration, plus internal changes.

Obviously, however, the drop in immigration from abroad affects all fifty states, yet all but Illinois, West Virginia, New York and Connecticut have grown nevertheless. And as our full report pointed out, Illinois is suffering because all three factors are unfavorable – net domestic migration, net international migration and internal demographics. (See appendix)

  • Hinz blows smoke on the problem by saying the population loss is concentrated downstate and therefore somehow of less concern.

While the problem may be worse downstate, 93 of Illinois’ 102 counties lost population from 2010 to 2018, including Cook County. A problem is a problem wherever it is concentrated.

  • Hinz cites Dan Cooper of the progressive Metropolitan Planning Council to identify what he says is the true source of the population loss: inequality, which “is our No. 1 problem,” according to Cooper.

The claim that Illinoisans are fleeing because of inequality is not new to progressives, but it’s unfounded. The most commonly used measure of inequality is called the Gini coefficient, which measures the gap between rich and poor. But Illinois’ Gini coefficient is exactly the same as the national average and tied with Texas and Florida, two of the fastest growing states. Look at the rankings of all 50 states and it’s immediately clear that there seems to be no connection between inequality and population trends.

And how about some common sense on this. In all the quotes you’ve probably seen from employers and others who have fled Illinois, have you seen even one say it’s because of inequality? Warren Buffet, probably the most famous investor on the planet, told CNBC that he wouldn’t relocate to Illinois because it would be “walking into liabilities.” Sorry, but it’s not because of inequality that investors like him and employers, along with the jobs and people that follow along with them, are shunning Illinois.

At least Hinz didn’t blame the weather for Illinois’ population loss, as many still do. But in case you are wondering, while weather is no doubt a factor, it hasn’t prevented our neighboring states from growing, as you can see here:

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.

Appendix.

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Steve Scheffel
10 days ago

An idea that I’ve had, that won’t get implemented under the democratic party domination of things, but I still think is worth pursuing, is to change the way we elect state senators in Illinois. I would like to see each of Illinois’ 102 counties elect their own state senator. This way you’d balance population representation and geographic representation. If it was up to me, I would make this change a requirement of any federal “bailout” of Illinois. This change would help provide more of the very much needed “equity” for the non-urban areas of the state.

James
10 days ago
Reply to  Steve Scheffel

What that would do is shift a much higher percentage of state funding to the rural areas, something sure to please them. But, essentially it would be much greater funding of new roads, bridges, parks, etc., that serve only a few people. In its extreme it means “freeways for everywhere.” Doesn’t that strike you as even more wasteful of public resources? Isn’t it better to spend a much greater percentage of limited resources in areas where the population using them is much, much larger? I understand the populist side of your argument, but I don’t see it as practical.

debtsor
9 days ago
Reply to  James

“Doesn’t that strike you as even more wasteful of public resources? Isn’t it better to spend a much greater percentage of limited resources in areas where the population using them is much, much larger?”

This results in an inequitable where city dwellers get unequal access to bridge, roads and parks, and rural people get less access. This is the actual definition of white supremacy and systemic racism.

The Truth Hurts
10 days ago
Reply to  Steve Scheffel

Steve,

I’m sure your heart is in the right place but you would be giving a small minority of the population control of the senate. There are 102 counties in Illinois. The bottom 52 counties have around 698k people. So under your plan 5.5% of the population would have the ability to control the senate. Imaginary county boundaries shouldn’t provide you additional power.

States were assigned outsized influence with their Senators as a compromise to forming the federal government and states’ rights. There is no constitutional “county” rights.

Last edited 10 days ago by The Truth Hurts
Riverbender
9 days ago

The House of Representatives that is determined by population would be the limitation on the Senate’s power based upon the changes suggested in the original post. The way it is now I personally am lucky that I live near St. Louis so that I have the ability to attend Government provided services like the Zoo and the Art Museum. There really isn’t anything provided to outlying Illinois areas with the exception of a scattering of prisons that provide housing to some of Chicago’s finest thugs. I should add that having 5.5% of the population control the Senate would be an… Read more »

Farmer Rick
9 days ago

That’s the very model our founders set up in the US Constitution for a bilateral legislature which worked exceptionally well for over two centuries. They wisely did that to provide checks and balances against a few of the more populous states having undue power over the smaller ones. It’s part of the genius of those men to implement a system which protects the rights of the minority against a powerful majority. It has nothing to do with “states’ rights” vs. ‘”county” rights’. Steve Scheffel is correct and other than the political difficulty of affecting it, there are no good arguments… Read more »

debtsor
9 days ago

State boundaries are not imaginary lines?

But you’re right, that’s a little too disproportionate. The IL Supreme Court is kind of set up this way by region where downstate, because it has fewer people, gets more representation per justice, so to speak, than the northern half of the state.

David George
10 days ago

My wife and I escaped Illinois for Knoxville, TN a few months ago. It wasn’t even the confiscatory taxes that finally caused us to leave our friends and family but the realization with Pritzker’s election that there was absolutely no political will to make necessary changes to the Democrat public pension Ponzi scheme which is slowly bankrupting the state. Those with wealth will continue to flee which means that middle class taxpayers in Illinois will eventually end up bearing the burden of this fiasco.

Jamie
8 days ago
Reply to  David George

My husband and I are thinking about moving our family to the Knoxville area. How do you like it?

Downstate cynic
10 days ago

I think people are leaving Illinois because of inequality.
inequality in tax burden
inequality in opportunity to start and grow a business in a high regulation, high liability state.
inequality in the cost of owning a home or building a home.:
inequality in the confidence that public safety and property rights will be protected.
inequality in access to safe and effective public education

you can add your own …..

Riverbender
9 days ago

The screen isn’t big enough for others to list a few each here in Madighanistan or is it Pritzkerville? I keep forgetting.

Pat
10 days ago

There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

10 days ago

It’s a little tough for me to get snooty about the exodus given the two places I pay taxes to also saw population loss (NY &CT)

Kenneth B Cooley Jr.
10 days ago

What an excellent article. And so true!
A few years ago I ordered a video called Demographic Winter.
In this video it tells the story of people who do demographics and that they found the patterns of prosperity with human population growth.
The cited nations with 1.1 or less growth which by the way is barely keeping your head above water, these nations had stagnate economic growth. Grow the state, grow your economy. Lose your people, lose your state and the economic growth that came with it.
Hinz is wrong.

Tom Kaye
10 days ago

Hintz is the reason I gave up my subscription to Crain’s several years ago. The man has proven time and time again that he leans towards those in power that have totally screwed up the state to begin with. The ma has never had a clue!

WeAreDoomed
6 days ago
Reply to  Tom Kaye

Exactly the reason I just canceled my Crain’s subscription.

Illinois Entrepreneur
10 days ago

When Crain’s used to have comments after articles, Hinz was a bit more “polite,” for lack of a better word. I always thought that even if he leaned left, he was reasonable, given the business underpinnings of the publication he writes for.

Then they eliminated the comments, and I’ve noticed that he’s become even more partisan than he always was. Everything has a spin or a slant to it.

Now I just find myself rolling my eyes as I read his writing.

He has become more and more hardcore in his progressivism.

Fedupandpacking
10 days ago

I move out in 2 days to Indiana and I can’t be any more excited.

Kenneth B Cooley Jr.
10 days ago

I envy you.

Governor of Alderaan
10 days ago

You’ll finally be free of Rauner!

Thee Jabroni
10 days ago

Lol!-good one!!

PlanningAnExit
10 days ago

It is important to recognize that Hintz is one of these:
1) Intellectually limited – can’t perceive the problem,
2) Unable to offer a fix to our problems,
or 3) complicit – and has a different agenda…(Fed $$$ perhaps?)

My guess is (3). Oh well, at least we have the weather…

Thee Jabroni
10 days ago
Reply to  PlanningAnExit

Or,#4-hes a clueless moron that tells leftist lies to appease the leftists!

Flash413
10 days ago

Think of how many people you know that are saying, “After (fill in the blank) we’ve moving out of Illinois”. We all know people in neighboring states – do you know even one who is planning on moving into Illinois?

marko
10 days ago
Reply to  Flash413

Ironically we met 2 families this fall that just moved into Chicago from…..wait for it…..NYC! They left for lower taxes, more space, lower cost of living and access to university jobs and one of them trades a Merc product and can be anywhere but still works for a NY bank. I guess sh*t does roll downhill after all!

Flash413
10 days ago
Reply to  marko

OK. . . . compared to Manhattan if get. But if I could trade frozen pork bellies from anywhere it would be someplace more tropical than Illinois.

nixit
10 days ago

progressive Metropolitan Planning Council

Interesting. I’ve come across MPC in my research of non-profit grants a few times. Wasn’t aware they had a political leaning. Just thought they were “more bikes, more mass transit” crowd.

Tom Paine's Ghost
9 days ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

Mark, Spot on comment. I’m an architect and have attended MPC lectures and seminars and read their publications for over 30 years. Right now MPC is a “big government and gigantic projects are the solution to all problems” outfit. I can’t imagine that anyone with any fiscal or economic sense works there.

Mark
11 days ago

I moved to north west Indiana just for the weather.Less corona just over the border too,things are open.

Wally
11 days ago

How many units of government does IL have again? Over 7000? More than bigger states like TX, CA, FL? How much is that costing in pensions, salary, health care, etc.? What again do townships do, except add another layer of taxes?

Fed up neighbor
11 days ago
Reply to  Wally

Nothing

debtsor
11 days ago

My township has a food bank, maintains a couple roads, and sends out a newsletter. The real reason my township exists is to provide pensions to the elected officials.

Fed up neighbor
10 days ago
Reply to  debtsor

Exactly, but why should I pay taxes to another town when I do not reside in it, this crap has to stop.

Last edited 10 days ago by Fed up neighbor
Freddy
10 days ago
Reply to  debtsor

I went to my local township assessors office a few years back to check on my assessment and got into a discussion that high property taxes affect property values. One of the employees there basically tore me a new one. Almost what seemed like 5 or 6 minutes said I have no idea what I’m taking about and I’m better off putting my energy into what I do know. She also said it seems my medication must be wearing off. 100% true!! None of the others in the office said anything. I was humiliated to say the least and I… Read more »

Fed up neighbor
10 days ago
Reply to  Freddy

Glad I’m not the only one with assessor issues thought it was just me. As a matter of fact Lockport townships assessor of many years just abruptly resigned last year in I believe October along with her assistant how mysterious is this and the Lockport township assessors office announced in the mailer that for the first time in history the township will be giving a property tax rebate. Makes me wonder just what the hell is going on behind closed doors, hope the rebate is more than 50 cents.

Riverbender
10 days ago
Reply to  Freddy

Illinois assessors are considered the front line troops by the Governmental pensioners and soon to be pensioners as they realize that these assessors represent their interests by keeping the funding coming in. Those letters behind the assessors name while sounding important generally reflect some Governmental training they have taken to grant you the decisions that they make. I too have been mortified by one of these assessors and I would suggest never deal with them other than to provide them a copy of a certified appraisal. I have done that successfully in the past including sending my protest all the… Read more »

Daskoterzar
3 days ago
Reply to  Freddy

I did the same thing. Went to the assessors office to discuss how to reduce the valuation of the home because of the falling values, due directly to the increasing taxes. She listened to me for a few moments, then told me I had no idea what I was talking about and told me “she was tired of the whining” and what did I want? The rudest person I have even encountered in government. I explained it again and she looked up other similar properties and told me I was nuts. But, I had a list of recent sales and… Read more »

Kenneth B Cooley Jr.
10 days ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

A form of Socialism. Give them a taste and keep them coming back for it.
Instead we should say don’t waste the money.
My mother-in-law would go and pick up free food and save it for my wife and I and we’d say, thanks but we don’t need the government food ma.

Eugene from a payphone
10 days ago
Reply to  debtsor

In many cases, it’s a 2nd pension. In my investment work, I’ve run into many city and Cook county employees who had positions in township government that paid them a 2nd pension.

Ex Illini
10 days ago
Reply to  Wally

I absolutely agree that too many units of government leads to significant waste. I will note however I live in an unincorporated area of a large suburb. I pay much lower property taxes and receive better services. The large suburb is bloated and provides services primarily to their downtown area, and are always trying to one up the neighboring suburbs. It is ridiculous.

Doug
11 days ago

I have seriously considered moving out of the country (prior to the election). I think family is the only reason I haven’t/won’t, but the future of the USA is Illinois government likeness spread from sea to shining sea. Try and escape all you want comrades, Georgia is proof that democracy doesn’t work with an influx of communist idiots voting.

Sigh….maybe I should consider ham radio directed upwards and try to make contact with aliens to get my family and myself out of here.

Last edited 11 days ago by Doug
Ex Illini
10 days ago
Reply to  Doug

I agree it feels pretty bad right now. Wait 2 years and see if you feel differently about the country. As for Illinois, that truly is a lost cause.

NB-Chicago
11 days ago

I haven’t left yet, but i think the ‘inequality’ factor that makes folks so fed up and split has nothing to do with racial inequality, etc, and everything to do with the inequality of the entitled public sector folks and their family members allowed to live zero risk -gaureteeed upper income lifestyles and retirements based on some rediculous gov cash accounting all at the expense of us 2nd class chumbalones forced to deal with the really of accural acounting and that debt matters….hinze would never admit to that..or maybe like so may in the press his family members are gigged-up… Read more »

NB-Chicago
10 days ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

I’d at least like to live somewhere where my neighbors (no matter their income level) play by the same accounting standards/rules. Accounting equality!!-why isn’t that a progressive ideal?…I told the wife my politics are that of an accural-o-crate. She had no idea what i was talking about

Lost Soul
11 days ago

For those of you that lack the ability to link the declining population to the impact on your personal lives, allow me to lay out the scenario you and your loved ones are facing. Taxes will increase, and increase, and increase. Home values will decline, and decline, and decline. Crime will increase. Infrastructure will deteriorate. Businesses will close or leave the state, hence jobs will decrease and that puts downward pressure on wages. What can you, the hard working Illinois taxpayer do about it? Not a darn thing. You thought 2020 was bad? You ain’t seen nothing yet.  

the observer
11 days ago
Reply to  Lost Soul

@Lost Soul; You are more prescient than you realize. I agree 100% and, thankfully, I will be a resident of Florida June 1, 2021. Cheers!

Ex Illini
10 days ago
Reply to  the observer

Congrats. Hope you enjoy many healthy years in your new home.

Bob Hummel
10 days ago
Reply to  Lost Soul

I’ve written on these pages before that there are a couple of things that Illinois taxpayers should do in 2021: 1) if you can’t move or don’t want to relocate out of state the sell you home and rent. This will help protect your equity from the coming value hit. 2) sell your home and move out of state. We did that in 2021 and are enjoying far lower property taxes. Similar quality schools and far better weather… and no outrageous governor. Every effort should e made to do one or the other or you have no one to blame… Read more »

11 days ago

Hinz should have a blog, not a news column. He is one of the dumbest reporters out there. Sincerely dim. It concerning that he has a platform he gets paid for

debtsor
11 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Carter

Don’t worry, legacy media is dying, his electrons will be on substack soon enough.

Ex Illini
10 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Carter

The idiots at Crapitol Fax hang on his every word.

Platinum Goose
10 days ago
Reply to  Ex Illini

They think he’s credible.

LessonLearned
11 days ago

Wake up Illinois! It’s happening. All the predictions about the death spiral are coming true. By the time the people that matter begin to listen to Wirepoints, it will be too late. All those neighbors you socialize with are about to become your competition to see who can sell their home first. The smarter ones are already preparing to list their homes in 2021. They will not hold out for top dollar. They will take the best offer even if it is disappointing and get out. They know that each month they delay will likely result in lower offers, plus… Read more »

Mike Williams
11 days ago

The most recent year of data showed the Illinois population reduced by almost 80,000. If it stays at that level for another 3 years that’s almost another quarter million people. When you consider the fact that the number leaving each new year usually increases, a more realistic number for the number leaving in the next 3 years is over 300,000, and in 5 years that would be well over a half million. If that’s not scary enough, try looking beyond 5 years.  

NoHope4Illinois
11 days ago

Thanks WP for continuing to present the facts! The above graphs are stunning and indeed show Illinois is an outlier from it’s neighbors, and not in a good way.

I don’t read anything anymore by Mr Hinz – He seems way to emotional.

willowglen
10 days ago

I don’t understand what Hinz attributes to the population loss. Is he saying it is just bad luck? He doesn’t let us know. Immigration policy? How would federal immigration policy uniquely impact Illinois? He doesn’t make sense.