Rural Illinois feels pain of decline
GIBSON CITY – It’s not the news those of us in rural Illinois want to hear but we will likely lose a Congressional seat after thousands of residents left the state last year.
State Rep. Tom Bennett of the 106th district (R-Gibson City) notes there is an income difference involved as well.
“Those that are leaving are making $20,000 more than those that are coming in,” Bennett told The Central Illinois Farm Network last week.
Bennett considers this a big hit and feels state government has to be aware this is happening. People are likely leaving the state because taxes are high.
“We really need to think about this and be aware because this is not just a one year thing – we’ve had folks leave the state for a number of years now and we’ve got to get a handle on this,” Bennett adds.
There has been a willingness, especially in certain parts of the state, to raise taxes as Illinois has one of the highest property taxes in the country. A number of taxes were raised during the last legislative session in Springfield.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker is discussing the progressive income tax, or what he calls the “fair tax.” This is something Bennett voted against. Illinois’ major pension issues continue along with education concerns. Teachers are schools are being asked to do more than they have in years past.
“They’re seeing a different world than when you and I were in school.”
The upcoming state legislative session begins Jan. 28 with plenty going on. Bills and ideas are being put together as we speak and some issues have been worked on for a year or more.
“They always end up with four or five thousand bills in the House and a couple thousand bills maybe in the Senate but we’ll see how all this plays out,” Bennett explained.
Bennett expects tweaks to marijuana legislation coming down the road and he hopes to see pension issues get resolved. The State Rep. from Gibson City is looking forward to this weekend’s Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs convention at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield which also includes the crowning of the Miss Illinois County Fair Queen.