Public employee union chief: Higher taxes won't drive people from Illinois
Jerry Morrison, executive director of one of the state's largest public employee unions, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Illinois State Council, says the state's growing tax burden is not to blame for its shrinking population.
“I am sick of this bullshit assertion that politics and high taxes are forcing people to leave Illinois for 'better' states,” Morrison wrote on Facebook Monday, responding to a Chicago Tribune editorial on the subject.
“I don't think people pick up their families and move to another state because they don't like the politics of a particular state. That is just plain silly and beneath the dignity of The Chicago Tribune.”
The Tribune interviewed a 30-year-old accountant who suggested Illinois' high state and property taxes caused her to move to Madison, Wisconsin.
In his Facebook post, Morrison called the woman “an idiot,” “with all do (sic) respect,” blaming the state’s population loss on broader trends.
“The reality is that the industrial Midwest and the Northeast have been losing population for decades,” he wrote.
Illinois lost 33,700 residents from 2016 to 2017, the most in the U.S. It has seen population loss four years in a row.
Meanwhile, fellow "industrial Midwest" states like Indiana (+32,811), Michigan (+28,866) and Wisconsin (+22,566) all gained population over the same period.
Illinois' highest in the nation property taxes are driving much of the flight across the border to states like Indiana, which has a hard 1 percent property tax cap.
Morrison currently lives in Chicago. But he was born and raised in south suburban Chicago Heights near the Indiana border.
Chicago Heights' effective median property tax rate in 2017 was 5.61 percent, or $3,338 ($278 per month) on a median-priced home of $65,000.
In Indiana, the same value home would have a maximum property tax bill of $650, or $54 per month.
Morrison’s SEIU, which claims 150,000 members, has endorsed Democrat J.B. Pritzker for Illinois governor, citing his support for higher taxes and more regulations. That's including a $15 minimum wage and a “progressive” income tax for Illinois, which would raise individual rates as high as 12 percent.
Morrison blamed the Illinois Policy Institute, and LGIS co-founder and AM 560 radio host Dan Proft for pushing “this ridiculous and politically motivated argument” that high taxes are bad for the state, which Morrison says “was planted like a putrid seed two years ago.”