Executive's move to Indiana reflects problem for Illinois
Since Aug. 31, David Mansfield, who has lived in Illinois almost all of his life, has called Indiana home, saying he was driven out of Illinois by its economy and politics.
There are some things that could happen that would bring him back to Illinois, Mansfield, a senior vice president of W. R. Berkley Corp., said.
"Fix the pension mess and major spending reforms," he said. "But as the public services unions are in bed with [state House] Speaker [Mike] Madigan (D-Chicago), that will never happen."
Mansfield gave notice of his move in a letter to the editor published in the Chicago Tribune. In that letter, under the headline "Why I'm leaving Illinois for Indiana", Mansfield placed the blame for that decision squarely on the shoulders of Madigan, who is also chairman of the Democrat Party of Illinois, and his own District 11 state Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago).
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduate who has lived in Chicago since 1988 said in the letter to the editor that he's mostly been proud to say he was a citizen of Chicago.
"But the Democratic machine has changed all that," he wrote in his letter. "Fiscal mismanagement and runaway spending coupled with an unsustainable pension system and dirty politics have left us with a $100 billion pension deficit and a budget more than $7 billion in the red. Madigan and his goons say that Gov. Bruce Rauner refuses to compromise, even while Rauner has agreed to raise taxes. But Democrats refuse to accept any of his badly needed pension and business reforms. Their solution to all of our problems are ever-increasing taxes on a citizenry finding it more and more difficult to make ends meet. Illinoisans are asked to tighten their belts while the government and public employees get more and more."
And he couldn't take it anymore, Mansfield said.
"The futility of trying to fix the situation was the final straw," he said. "If I felt a reasonable increase in taxes by themselves could solve the problem, I might live with it. But knowing that the pension system needs some serious reform - primarily a defined contribution program instead of the current defined benefit plan - and major spending reforms, and knowing neither will ever happen, drove me out."
He's not the only one leaving. Population in the majority of Illinois' large cities, including Chicago, is on the decline, according to data released earlier this year by the U.S. Census Bureau. Indiana officials are trying to take advantage of that outflow of Chicago area residents, beckoning to would-be emigrants with the promise of lower home values and a slower pace of life, in addition to a fiscally sound state budget.
Mansfield said he found all that a factor in his decision.
"A factor, but not a driving force," he said.
Mansfield’s move from the state is attracting quite a bit of attention. In addition to his letter being published in the Chicago Tribune, Mansfield's decision to move to Indiana also was featured on WBBM Channel 2 News.