ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — It’s official: Illinois will lose one seat in congress. The US Census Bureau released early 2020 numbers showing which states gain and which lose seats on Capitol Hill.
The data shows a decade of population decline in the state–but what is to blame? It really depends on who you ask.
Some believe a lack of affordable colleges can be blamed. Others say lower taxes have attracted residents to pack their things and move to surrounding states
“I’m concerned about it. I will say over a decade we’ve lost population, we’ve got to turn that around,” said Ilinois Gov. JB Pritzker.
The Land of Lincoln loses not only residents but a seat in congress after the 2020 census.
Monday, Governor Pritzker made the case that college students are at the root of the drop.
“Some of our best students were being offered full scholarships to places like the University of Alabama, University of Iowa, other places. So, I immediately set out to address that with the general assembly and we did,” said Pritzker. “We weren’t making it affordable enough, with all the effort, by the way. With MAP grants and aim high it wasn’t yet enough.”
State Representative Joe Sosnowski says he agrees in part with Pritzker–but ultimately believes other factors are aligned with the loss of people.
“We have seen an outmigration of college students, but I think the number one overarching problem, and it follows suit with college students. They’re looking for opportunities, but Illinois residents are looking for opportunities primarily in lower-taxed states that have more job opportunities,” said 69th District Rep. Sosnowski (R).
“There are more opportunities for lower taxes, lower property taxes in some of our surrounding states.”
Sosnowski says losing a seat in congress is troubling for the state.
“One less representative means less representation in congress. As you see other states growing, and adding representation, it makes it difficult when we’re looking for policies that help the state of Illinois,” added Rep. Sosnowski.
“We did the best that we could in counting people, in the state of Illinois, better than any of the large states in the country,” said Pritzker. “Now we’re working really hard to make sure we’re going the right direction.”
State lawmakers are in the process of drawing new legislative maps. Those new maps will determine which district is eliminated.