Sometimes it's easier — and smarter — just to pack up and go.
A 2016 poll by Southern Illinois University revealed vast unhappiness by the people of Illinois with the state of Illinois. Nearly half of the state's residents would like to live in another state.
Three years later, Illinois has a new governor, a supermajority Democratic Legislature and a souped-up version of state government committed to great spending and heavier taxation.
People will have to wait and see how that turned out. But a March poll by SIU found the public doesn't have much faith in the future — two-thirds of those polled expressed the opinion that the state is headed in the wrong direction.
It's not just public opinion polls that reveal public discontent. There's also "what's known here as The Exodus," the Pew Charitable Trusts reports.
Illinois population has declined by 157,000 residents over the past five years.
The Land of Lincoln and West Virginia are the only two states to lose population over the past decade.
Illinois still has a huge population — roughly 12.5 million. But it's an unhealthy state with an uncertain future.
What's the problem?
"Illinois' predicament is a perfect storm of declining manufacturing, stagnant immigration, declining birth rates, young people leaving for college and never coming back, long-standing economic discrimination against black residents, high housing costs, and the continued draw of residents to the Sun Belt," Pew reporter Matt Vasilogambros reports.
The problem runs from the top of the state to the bottom.
Take Chicago. The downtown is thriving. There are plenty of high-end jobs for well-educated professionals, but the prosperity is limited.
Chicago's black population has declined by 400,000 since 1980, a decline offset somewhat by an increase in the Asian population. But it's clear those at the lower end of the income and social scale are looking for better opportunities elsewhere.
Outside of Chicago, there's a place called Illinois. What's the problem there?
"In downstate Illinois, the population loss has come largely from a decrease in manufacturing jobs," Pew reports.
Part of the decline is due to increased efficiencies built into the manufacturing process — it takes fewer people to produce industrial goods than it once did.
But while Illinois has advantages — an educated workforce, a major transportation network and a central location — the state trails others in terms of competitiveness.
Vince Flaska moved his forklift manufacturing business out of the Chicago area and into Indiana in 2015 because financial reality made the decision a "no-brainer."
He is saving $1.75 million a year in workers' compensation costs and another $1.5 million in state taxes. That's $3.25 million for a small manufacturer. Indiana also showered him with another $15 million in financial incentives.
When businesses like that move from Chicago, Decatur, Peoria or Moline, the people who worked there and earned good wages must go somewhere else. Increasingly, they're going outside Illinois.
Then there's the brain drain — high school graduates who leave Illinois to go elsewhere and never come back. That's where state government comes into the picture.
The financial mess that is Illinois has created problems that have diverted money that once went to high education elsewhere, mostly for public pensions and Medicaid.
These are difficult problems to overcome. Illinois still has nearly 600,000 manufacturing jobs, a number that fell 30 percent between 2001 and 2016. But for how long in the face of the comparative advantages of manufacturing in Indiana and Illinois.
Where will Illinois come up with the money to fund K-12 and higher education in the face of public pension underfunding that will rise to $136 billion by June 30?
Higher taxes, some argue. But among those leaving the state are upper-income earners.
The Pew portrait of Illinois is, at best, disturbing and, at worst, a horror show.
Considering that reality and the lack of interest in overturning the failing status quo, The Exodus can be expected to continue.