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OUR VIEW: Census gives Illinois a break

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When you suspect there’s an error in your favor, do you have an obligation to point it out?

On a personal level, to be sure.

But when it comes to the government, finding the right way to correct or address concerns can be an impossible maze. There’s a reason it’s called “red tape.”

The census numbers crawling out from bureaucracy have been favorable to Illinois. Favorable in that the numbers aren’t as bad as early projections suggested. Illinois’ population still dropped. Our state joined West Virginia and Mississippi as the only states to drop in population since 2010.

But early speculation and analysis had Illinois potentially losing two seats in Congress. One seat in the House of Representatives will be lost. That’s one reason Illinois’ 13th District Representative Rodney Davis is pondering a run for Illinois governor.

However, Illinois and cities of fewer than 100,000 people got several breaks. Early this year, the Office of Management and Budget announced its intention to increase from 50,000 to 100,000 the population threshold for the core of a Metropolitan Statistical Area. Many federal programs dispense tax dollars based on recognition of communities designated as MSAs. A total of 144 threatened cities maintained their "metro" status when the decision was reversed. The current standards will remain in place until at least 2030.

Every complaint about re-districting remains fair and accurate, regardless of the outcome of the numbers. We remain disappointed in Gov. Pritzker’s reversal on a campaign pledge to reject a politically based re-districting. This is another of those issues that will take time and courts to settle. Again. That’s something we’d hoped could be avoided for a change.

The census numbers are undoubtedly problematic, although to say the 2020 census is “worse” than any others requires an analytical skill few of us have. Certainly, confusion was added by court cases, including attempts to change the census form. Suspicious citizens were reluctant to fill out forms. Some were unaware of the census, or unable to fill out forms. COVID-19 compounded the problem, thwarting plans to go door-to-door throughout the country.

Illinois likely benefitted from at least some of those issues. But problems that have prompted people to leave Illinois remain.

Flight from Illinois will continue to be an issue until we settle issues that have been kicked down the road for years, if not decades. Pensions must be tended to, and it must be done with fairness to both taxpayers and those who have been promised those pensions . Workers comp and property taxes remain a bane to employers and taxpayers.

Illinois caught a break with the census this year. But just as scientists are sounding alarms about the environment, the census results highlight problems we all know Illinois has. It’s time to stop talking about them and to resolve some of them.

The balance of power in Washington will shift slightly to Republicans in the coming years.The Census Bureau released its apportionment data from the 2020 population count.This determines how many seats and Electoral College votes states get for the next decade.Six states colored in green will pick up seats: Texas will get two seats, along with one each for Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Oregon and Montana. And seven states colored in purple will each lose one sea. That includes California, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and West Virginia.


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