Senator Syverson’s Week in Review: September 12 – 16

SpringfieldThe Illinois Supreme Court once again affirms that it will not allow Illinois residents to have a voice in how legislative districts are drawn. Meanwhile, Illinois gets a win as IDOC and IDHS team up to help mentally ill inmates and end a long legal battle that predates the current Governor.

Highlighting the state’s need for serious structural reforms, Forbes rated Illinois as the second biggest loser in outmigration, particularly with high-earners and the younger crowd, based on tax data from the last year of the Quinn administration.

Supreme Court refuses to rehear redistricting referendum

After striking down a popular, citizen-driven referendum to change the way Illinois draws its political maps, the Illinois Supreme Court has denied a motion for rehearing the case.

The referendum would have taken the power to draw political maps away from the politicians and created a non-partisan system for fairly drawing district boundaries.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said, “Today’s court decision is very disappointing, but not unexpected. Now that the courts have denied Illinoisans the right to vote on a redistricting referendum in November for the last time, it is up to the General Assembly to address political reform – term limits and independent redistricting – as soon as they convene this fall.”

Senate Republicans have supported legislative attempts to reform the redistricting system, but most genuine efforts have been blocked by Democrat leadership. Earlier in 2016, both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly passed redistricting reform proposals, but the Democrat leaders in each chamber refused to take up the other chamber’s bill.

Many statehouse insiders referred to the Democrats’ actions as a thinly veiled attempt to appear sympathetic to the issue while making sure no reforms actually take place.

Departments of Correction and Human Services team up to help mentally ill

The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) recently announced a joint effort to help deliver treatment services to mentally ill inmates. The two agencies have entered into an Intergovernmental Agreement that allows IDOC to use part of the Elgin Mental Health Center (EMHC) as an inpatient mental health treatment facility.

Currently, the EMHC serves as a forensic hospital, which serves patients who may have been found not guilty of crimes by reason of insanity or those who were unfit to stand trial. The new agreement will transform the Jenk and Dix units of the EMHC into a secure mental health facility. The goal is to improve the correctional outcomes of the mentally ill inmates, and improve safety for all inmates, IDOC staff, and the residents of Illinois.

The agreement is also expected to help fast-track a settlement in a years-old lawsuit of mental health care, Rasho vs. Baldwin, which had languished in the courts for seven years.

Forbes rates Illinois 2nd worst for out-migration losses

As further evidence of the need for structural reforms in Illinois, a recent Forbes study shows Illinois as one of the biggest losers in terms of inter-state migration. The article quantifies the financial losses faced by states who are losing residents to other areas. Illinois is ranked as the second worst, trailing only New York. The magazine describes Illinois as a “high tax, high regulation” state and a “low growth disaster.”

The magazine analyzed tax data from 2014, the most recent available, creating an indictment of Illinois’ migration trends during the end of former Governor Pat Quinn’s second term. The author writes that the idea was to create a “snapshot of where Americans are moving now, and, equally important, a breakdown by income levels and age.”

According to the study, New York is the only state losing high-income earners (over $200,000 per year) at a greater rate than Illinois. Looking at all income levels, their data says that Illinois is only gaining 67.2 in-migrants for every 100 people lost to out-migration. The Land of Lincoln also appears to have a hard time holding on to younger residents with the second largest out-migration rate for people aged 26-34.

You can read the full article here:

Dave Syverson

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