Journal Times editorial: Illinoisans are welcome to move here
Our Perspective

Journal Times editorial: Illinoisans are welcome to move here

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When thinking about our neighbors to the south, in the Land of Lincoln, a few names come to mind, some more affectionate than others. After all, they like the Bears and the Cubs.

But while we like to joke about the sports rivalries, Illinois has problems. In part because of fiscal problems and taxes, Illinois has seen an exodus of residents.

“The No. 1 U.S. state for outbound migration in 2017 was Illinois, moving up from No. 2 in the previous year. And Wisconsin is one of the top beneficiaries of this migration pattern,” according to a report from the Badger Institute, a conservative research organization. That is based on an analysis of the Census Bureau’s annual state-to-state migration flow.

According to the data, in 2017 nearly 27,000 people left Illinois for Wisconsin, compared with fewer than 13,000 moving in the opposite direction, a net inflow to Wisconsin of nearly 15,000 people. That followed a record net inflow of nearly 16,000 in 2016, 11,500 in 2015 and 15,370 in 2014. There has been a net outflow from Illinois to Wisconsin of more than 116,000 residents between 2006 and 2017.

Beyond the numbers, John Crimmings, vice president and general manager of First Weber in Racine, said he is seeing home buyers coming up from Illinois, especially in Kenosha and Walworth counties. It’s one of the reasons Kenosha County has experienced such growth, Crimmings said, because people are inclined to move over the state line and commute an extra 15 minutes to save money in the long run.

Burlington Mayor Jeannie Hefty is seeing evidence of the northward trend. In a recent Facebook post, Hefty mentioned several people from Illinois she talked to at a recent Burlington Wine Walk event.

One couple purchased a house on Browns Lake as a getaway home. And another retired couple from Gurnee, Ill., was looking to relocate to Wisconsin because of real estate taxes and to be closer to their kids.

In Hefty’s post she wrote: “Burlington, you are definitely on the radar of all ages of visiting more or potential residents. Keep it up, it is showing what all your hard work and street appeal can truly make a difference.” We would extend that congratulations to the Legislature as well as other local municipalities.

The Badger Institute report cited a report from WalletHub that said Illinois was ranked No. 8 for highest overall tax burden. In contrast, Wisconsin ranked No. 16.

Although Wisconsin has a slightly higher income tax burden (2.67% vs. 2.44%), the Badger State has a lower tax burden than Illinois in property taxes (3.52% vs. 4.11%) and sales/excise taxes (3.07% vs. 3.53%). The average local and state sales tax in Illinois is 8.74%, compared to Wisconsin at 5.44%. The report also brought up concerns about Illinois’ credit rating and unfunded pension liability.

While we want Illinois politics to stay south of the state line, Land of Lincoln residents are more than welcome to pack up and move north of it.

We’ll even let them join us for a beer and cheese to watch the Packers-Bears game.

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