Illinois State House Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) on the House floor
State Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) worries that Illinois’s long-troubled past will also become its immediate future without a complete government overhaul.
“What you see now will continue to be the way this state continues to struggle if we as lawmakers don’t come together to fix our pension and property tax systems,” Batinick told the Will County Gazette.
Batinick argues the damage caused by those broken systems is reflected in the number of people choosing to walk away from the state altogether.
In 2018, for the fifth straight year, Illinois lost population: A record-setting 45,116 residents fled the state for other parts, bringing overall outmigration numbers since 2000 to almost 1.5 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Illinois’s latest population losses came at a time when no other state in the Midwest suffered a population decline, and they dropped the state behind Pennsylvania on the list of the country’s largest states. In 2018, only New York suffered a greater numeric lost in population—48,510.
“This is what happens when you kick the can down the road for years and years,” added Batinick, who defeated his Democrat opponent, Mica Freeman, in November’s general election in the 97th District. “The inefficiency is killing us. Right now, we have over 700 pension systems, which is totally outrageous.”
Still, Batinick said, he is taking a wait-and-see attitude about the overwhelming Democratic majorities set to soon take over in Springfield, including at the Governor's Mansion with Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker.
“I’m optimistic we may finally get something done with pensions and the budget, if for no other reason Democrats realize being in total control means there is no one else they can blame when things continue to go sideways,” he said.
The 97th District includes all or part of Oswego, Plainfield, Troy and Wheatland.