Choice is easy: Get out or go broke, Illinois radio hosts say
Bad policymaking has punched holes in Illinois' borders and people are escaping at alarming rates, the co-hosts of a Chicago-based conservative radio talk show said recently.
"Our policies are driving people out because we are in the middle of a bunch of other states," Pat Hughes said on Illinois Rising. "We're in the middle of it. So they're going to these other states, and why wouldn't they? That's what's happening. They're not leaving to go off to God knows where; they're leaving to go to Indiana and Iowa and Kentucky and Michigan."
Hughes said he doesn't see an end to the exodus anytime soon.
"They're continuing to do things in Springfield that's going to lead to more outmigration," he said.
Hughes and co-host Dan Proft were discussing a recent Crain's Chicago Business article that cited newly released U.S. Census data showing greater-Metro Chicago's population declining for two consecutive years at an ever-accelerating rate. The area lost 19,570 people in the year ending June 30, 2016, dropping to about 9.5 million people. In the previous year, 11,324 people left the area.
Proft is a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
Illinois Policy, citing the same data, reported that Cook County suffered the largest population loss of any county in the nation. Cook County is one of 93 of Illinois’ 102 counties that have suffered domestic outmigration, and nearby states are welcoming the newcomers. For example, Indiana officials are beckoning would-be emigrants to the so-called "affordable shore." The problem cannot be dismissed, especially taking into consideration that people don't easily decide to leave their homes, Proft said.
"The size of that decision, and thus the ripple effect of it, is really underappreciated when we just say, 'Oh, it's just 20,000 people in the context of a metro area of 9 million,' and so forth," Proft said. "These are huge numbers, and it's happening year over year, all over, and that multiplier effect is massive."
The multiplier effect shows how serious things have become in Illinois, Hughes said.
"Think about all these people in these numbers that are moving their children with them," Hughes said. "Children moving. You think it's hard for an adult; children moving from their place where they're comfortable and familiar with their school and everything and their routine. For them to be moved and uprooted and have to re-establish themselves; sure it's going to work over time."
Hughes added that people make the choice to leave when they realize it costs too much to stay.
"They're like, 'Look, we have no choice. I'm never going to be able to send my kid to college. I'm never going to be able to pay off my house. I'm going to pay all of my home equity to the government that is failing and is $200 billion in debt, and I've got to go find another life. And if that means I have to suffer through emotional pain, if that means I have to uproot my kids and force them through emotional pain, it's better to rip that bandage off now and have a chance down the road than to continue down this path,'" Hughes said.