Fleeing Illinois

(Source: KFVS)
(Source: KFVS)
(Source: KFVS)
(Source: KFVS)

ILLINOIS (KFVS) - The population of Illinois residents is starting to shrink.

The state of Illinois is dealing with $11 billion of unpaid bills and an 18-month long deadlock where lawmakers have failed to come to an agreement on how to fix it.

Governor Bruce Rauner gave his State of the State speech last week addressing "undisciplined spending" and taxes.

"We are seeing the collective impact of those realities from Carbondale to Chicago, from East St. Louis to Danville," he said. "Families and employers are leaving."

As the state is fighting over its budget, residents are moving out.

A recent graduate of Southern Illinois University, Ahmad Khatatbeh, explained his frustration, "I have to move…I have no other choice."

A recent poll by Southern Illinois University political researchers found that while 51 percent are fine staying put, a whopping 47 percent want to move elsewhere. Approximately 2 percent said they didn't know.

John Jackson, a political analyst and professor that spearheaded the poll, said, "The weather for one thing. And people in the country are moving toward the sunbelt, where it is warmer. The other one, however, was politics and government in Illinois and it well-known that our government has been dysfunctional so people use that as their reason. The question of taxes is out there."

According to the poll, taxes are the single biggest reason people want to leave, followed by weather, government and jobs.

"I have to leave Illinois," Khatatbeh explained. "I lived for a long time here. I love the state and…if I don't get anything guaranteed here at SIU in Carbondale, I cannot come back here."

He decided he wanted to move on.

"I applied for a lot of schools and I chose SIU…and now I regret it," he said.

Khatatbeh plans to pursue a graduate degree in Texas, preferably the University of Houston, which he said has a lot to offer.

His reasons mirrored those of the poll.

"Great city, great school, it's cheap and nice and has everything," he said.

As a result of residents leaving, there are plenty of unsold houses on the market according to one contractor.

"You have a lot of homes for sale right now. Every month, there are just more and more homes coming up on the market. We are not building that many, so all those homes are not brand new construction because 'oh we are doing so great,' all those homes are coming from people leaving the area. They're putting their houses on the market. Some of them are on the market, but the family is already gone," said Cristian Badiu, a southern Illinois contractor.

The United States Census Bureau released a report last month stating that Illinois lost more people than any other state from 2015 to 2016. That's less 37,508 residents.

That trend is also apparent in the most recent annual report from Allied Van Lines

"The states got to get its act together in terms of this budget crisis, in terms of legislative gridlock because the state's not meeting the needs of people who think they will find a better state govt and better conditions elsewhere. And state officials got to take the seriously," Jackson said.

According to the Allied Van Lines Annual Report, California, Florida, Texas and Arizona are the top states benefiting from Illinois' residents.

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