Too often we watch our best and brightest leave Illinois for greener pastures. This includes our children finding better job prospects elsewhere, our businesses taking their jobs over state borders, and our seniors enjoying their retirement in other states.
We must recognize the mobility that technology affords families, seniors, and businesses. While Illinois lags behind the rest of the country and struggles to be competitive, our neighbors are poaching our businesses and people. In fact, Illinois is one of only three states in the country in a net population decline.
The painting is just as bleak for retirees. Illinois ranks 38th among states for costs to retirees. We must do a better job of making this state a place where our seniors want to retire so they can remain close to family and their life-long friends.
Most importantly, we must utterly reject the idea of a retirement tax on our seniors. Older, higher income residents are already leaving this state in droves. We cannot solve our state budget problems on the backs of our seniors, as this will only serve to accelerate the departure of retirees from Illinois.
To provide our seniors some certainty and the ability to plan for the future, we need to:
- Instill sound, stable fiscal policies in Illinois. Seniors need to be able to trust that the programs they rely on will be funded, that their taxes won’t go up, and that government won’t find new ways to make their lives more difficult.
- Explore additional ways to make Illinois an attractive place for seniors to retire. Some states reduce the amount seniors must pay in their property taxes towards school districts once they reach a certain age, and while this may not be something we can institute during our current fiscal crisis, it is something we ought to explore in the near future.