First-term Illinois state Rep. Dan Caulkins (R- Decatur) is fighting to transform Springfield into a place state residents can rely on.
“The people deserve better,” Caulkins told the Chambana Sun. “We need to be focused on how we can make life better for the people that are here, which would only attract more people overall.”
A new study by news outlet NPR and the University of Illinois - Springfield finds that 61 percent of Illinoisans now admit they have thought of leaving the state due to rising taxes and other fiscal issues, an 8-percent increase over the 2018 results. Twenty-seven percent of respondents cited high taxes for the reason they want out, with the ratio of households earning upward of $100,000 leading the way at 68 percent.
Illinois state Rep. Dan Caulkins (R- Decatur)
The thought of leaving Illinois is more than just a pipe dream for many, as over the last five years more than 157,000 residents have fled the state, making it the only state in the U.S. to suffer population losses in consecutive years.
“I know people are discouraged because Illinois is a great state with tremendous resources,” Caulkins said. “We need to be making the state more attractive, more appealing and more welcoming. People are telling us they’re not happy with the way things are going and we keep heading down the same path.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been pushing a progressive tax plan that he insists will only mean higher rates for the state’s most affluent residents, though many view the proposal as just another blank check for the government.
“Every two years we have elections that tell us if people are dissatisfied enough with the status quo to do something different or make a change,” Caulkins said. “You look at who’s run this state for the last 30 years and realize they’ve had ample opportunity to do something different. It comes down to the fact that voters are the board of directors and when they’ve truly had enough they’ll move to make a change"
Caulkins said he still holds out hope that day will come.
"What gives me hope is what we’re seeing in Chicago, in Cook County with these criminal investigations exposing more of the corruption," he said. "Maybe that will open some eyes to the fact we need new leadership.”