Wirepoints founder says BGA assessment of why residents are leaving Illinois distorts data
While the Better Government Association (BGA), a nonpartisan watchdog group in Illinois, says residents are leaving the state for reasons other than taxes, Wirepoints calls the data distorted.
Mark Glennon, the executive editor and founder of Wirepoints, said BGA's assessment contained distortions and omissions.
"Its initial premise that taxes aren’t driving population away is a straw man—nobody is blaming taxes alone for population loss or the sky falling," Glennon told the Prairie State Wire. "But as to whether it’s a major factor, you’d think the BGA would have at least mentioned what people say."
Glennon said a Paul Simon Institute poll found that a staggering half of Illinoisans want to leave and high taxes were the most common reason they listed for why.
"The problem is particularly acute with the wealthy," Glennon said. "I’d suggest the BGA talk to some estate planners or tax preparers about the tsunami of rich folks changing their residence to places like Florida and Texas that have no income tax. I do often."
Glennon said the BGA ignores hard data.
"If you want harder data, look at the IRS information that has confirmed that our tax base has flatlined," Glennon said. "The BGA ignores that."
Glennon said the BGA assessment focuses mostly on income tax rates, where Illinois is in the middle compared to other states.
"But all rankings show Illinois at or near the top on total tax burden," Glennon said. "Property taxes alone are a deal killer for many folks considering coming here or leaving. The only ranking done since the recent income tax increase, done by WalletHub, put us worst in the nation in total tax burden."
Glennon said what is most important is looking beyond current tax collections.
"People understand that Illinois’ biggest tax bills are in the drawer, still to be sent out," Glennon said. "They know about our unfunded pension liabilities, for example. The BGA entirely ignores that. Other states with high taxes are keeping abreast of their obligations far better than us."
Glennon said he found it surprising that the BGA dismissed government regulations, financial chaos and uncertainty from a two-year budget stalemate, among other things.
"Of course they are factors driving people off," Glennon said. "When people listed 'government' and the 'economy' in that poll about why they want to leave, those are the kinds of things they have in mind. People will pay high taxes if they are getting value in return. But in Illinois, they know they are paying into a bottomless pit of incompetence and graft."
While the BGA mentions neighboring states doing better than Illinois because of auto bailouts, Glennon points out that there is much less auto manufacturing in Illinois.
"The reason that industry fled to those other states is because they made the labor law reforms we haven’t made, and have a better workers’ comp system and such," Glennon said. "It’s not luck."
Glennon believes residents and business should definitely be concerned.
"They should be terrified," Glennon said. "Media like the BGA that deny 'the sky is falling'... will have a special place in the history books about Illinois’ collapse. Denial is killing us by delaying drastic reforms, yet denial remains a core theme in much of Illinois media."
Glennon said its silly for the BGA to try to match up tax rates by migration year for year.
"It takes years for people to move when they get fed up with Illinois' problems," he said. "They have to change jobs, get kids out of school and sell their homes—which they often can’t do because their mortgages are underwater. The real impact of our problems in our population is still years away."
The BGA's assessment notes that Illinois' population was listed at 12,801,539 in 2016, and it dropped by 33,000 in 2017.