Sorry, Tennessee, about the ‘Illinois Exodus’

Sorry, Tennessee, about the ‘Illinois Exodus’

The Nov. 6 election in Illinois could sweep in a Democratic governor and an influx of Democratic lawmakers intent on changing the state’s tax structure through a constitutional amendment. The change would unlock Illinois’ flat tax and give politicians the flexibility to institute a graduated income tax — and then adjust the tax rates in perpetuity.

In which direction, Tennesseans, do you think those tax rates will head?

More residents left Illinois last year than did residents of any other state.

So I’m sorry, Tennessee. This is why we’re jamming up your roads, schools and workplaces. We’re replacing your dive-bar barbecue with our pizza and craft beers. We’re barging into your comforting Southern twang with hard vowels and incomplete sentences. We’re invading at a record pace, so get used to “frunchroom” and “Hey der.” Did you know a recent study found the Chicago accent to be the least attractive in the country? Do you agree yet?

“They are building a new development on every corner, in every farm field, everywhere you go,” says Robert Perunko of Gurnee, who drove through several neighborhoods south of Nashville this summer, house-hunting. “I couldn’t find the house we wanted to look at because there were so many Wi-Fi units flooding our devices. You have to turn off Bluetooth connectivity to access the internet.”

Sorry, Nashville. We’re messing up your technology too.

The good news is you’re getting people like Perunko and his wife: hardworking, civic-minded, family-oriented, modest — but fed up. Perunko is leaning toward leaving Illinois. Here’s why:

He drives a 2007 Toyota Corolla with more than 200,000 miles. He sold his motorcycle to manage mortgage payments, put off new windows on the family’s Cape Code-style house and started changing the oil on the car himself to save money. Family members eat meals at home. They bring their lunches to work. A recent splurge? Taking their young son to see the movie “Coco.” That’s it.

They paid $210,000 for their house, which now has a property tax bill of more than $6,000. They pay more than $4,000 in state income taxes. A graduated income tax under most scenarios Perunko has calculated would cost him another $900 at least.

Meanwhile, their friends in Tennessee pay about $500 a year in property taxes on a much more expensive home with a swimming pool.

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