By Dennis Robaugh
Half of Illinoisans say the great state of Illinois isn't so great.
So says Gallup in a new poll. Wonder why?
With George Ryan back home, Illinois only has one governor in prison now.
And a congressman.
Of course, we have a bounty of dimmer political lights in the clink, an assortment of councilmen, commissioners, comptrollers and the like, busted on various bribery and corruption charges. And a state representative may soon be headed there for his alleged fascination with kiddie porn.
Our temporary state income tax is bound to be made permanent. Our state pension funds are an underfunded mess. It's so cold here we jokingly called our homeland Chiberia. And it's so god-awful deadly in some parts of Chicago, people call the city Chiraq.
Actual democracy is non-existent in so many government bodies in Illinois, we practically have an army of mini-Putins running our state. And we have an elected person or board for everything — water, sewage, books, playgrounds, roads, fire, mosquitoes, crime, tax appeals, real estate, license plates ...
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We're probably going to put up $100 million of taxpayer money to lure the Barack Obama presidential library to Chicago — money our state doesn't have — making us the first state to put public funds toward a living ex-president's library and museum.
The business climate in Illinois is inhospitable. Unless you're a major corporation seeking a huge tax break.
On the other side of the ledger, Chicago is the funniest city in America (but only because we like to tell funny stories about our problems). We've got great museums and comedy clubs. And Lake Michigan. And wonderful parks and forests. The housing boom 20 years ago resulted in some of the most gorgeous dwellings and developments throughout Chicagoland (though a lot of them, far too many, went into foreclosure the last 10 years). We've got the Bears, the Blackhawks, the Bulls and the White Sox.
But we also have the Cubs. So it really feels like the scale is tilted heavily on the side of what's wrong and embarrassing about Illinois. Maybe that's why half of Illinoisans surveyed by Gallup say they want to leave the state — ranking No. 1 in America in the desire to flee. And 19 percent say they intend to leave within a year.
More than one of every four respondents cited work and business reasons for wanting to leave. Illinois ranked in the bottom three states in questions about work/business, state government and taxes.
The residents of Montana, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, New Hampshire, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wyoming told the pollsters they were happy to stay.
Let's talk about that. Would you leave Illinois if you could? Where would you go?
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