It’s happening more frequently. Companies are choosing to move from Illinois to more regulation-friendly states, some families with disabled members have announced they are moving to where services are more progressive and readily available, and now social service employees are eyeing the state border.
Consider what a 20-year nonprofit leader told me at a recent funding meeting in Waukegan. He simply can’t afford to do business here anymore. Begging for state payment while paying interest to borrow for payroll is not why he chose to work in human services. A possible melding of his organization with a similar nonprofit in Wisconsin seems like the best option in the new year and plans are in motion to make the move.
A direct service employee who resides in Wisconsin, but who works in the Zion area confided that her home state is looking very attractive because there is less drama and uncertainty around funding. Looking for employment across the border is looking good to this eight-year direct service veteran who feels her skills would be welcome in a state that focuses on people rather than pensions.
And finally, there is the social service director who recently sold her Round Lake home to move to a similar abode in Racine and plans to commute each day to her Illinois job. Sure it’s a longer commute, but at least some of her taxes will not be going to Illinois.
So what does this portend for those nonprofit organizations that choose to remain in Illinois and continue to fight the good fight in order to support people who, through no fault of their own, have a significant disability but who are unfortunate enough to reside here? Frankly it could be the start of a “drain of dedicated human service professionals” to more financially stable states. Should this type of thinking catch on, consider how difficult it will be for Illinois community organizations to attract and retain quality, caring direct-service employees. At Countryside Association, we happen to be blessed with an abundance of support staff members who are dedicated to their work, but retaining those employees and finding qualified replacements is a challenge. How do we continue to value the contributions that employees make to people with disabilities if they have not seen raises in almost five years?
Think the loss of Illinois human service professionals would not have other impacts? Consider a recent study by the Donors Forum that noted that Illinois nonprofits rank as the fourth largest job engine in the state.
Quoting from the study:
- More than a half-million Illinois workers – representing one in every 11 jobs in the state – are employed by a nonprofit.
- Illinois nonprofits accounted for $24.3 billion in wages during the past year, representing 8.7 percent of the state total payroll. That income is projected to yield $459 million in tax revenues for Illinois’ depleted coffers, as well as $2.3 billion in federal tax receipts.
As more regulations, slow payment, and miserable wages take their toll on human services workers and the agencies for which they work, some are choosing to leave Illinois altogether, and they’re taking their tax dollars with them.
Kind of gives Escape to Wisconsin a whole new meaning.
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