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Trib editorial: Pa. little better than Ill. in governance, population

IllinoisBudget65151jpgfde58
Illinois Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, right, listens to debate on a package of budget bills passed by the Senate on Tuesday, July 4, 2017, at the Capitol in Springfield, Ill. The Illinois Senate OK'd an annual spending plan of $36 billion following a critical vote to raise the income tax rate, part of the approval process with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for what became Illinois' first budget in more than two years. (Rich Saal/The State Journal-Register via AP)
IllinoisBudget65151jpgfde58
Illinois Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, right, listens to debate on a package of budget bills passed by the Senate on Tuesday, July 4, 2017, at the Capitol in Springfield, Ill. The Illinois Senate OK'd an annual spending plan of $36 billion following a critical vote to raise the income tax rate, part of the approval process with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for what became Illinois' first budget in more than two years. (Rich Saal/The State Journal-Register via AP)
IllinoisBudget65151jpgfde58
Illinois Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, right, listens to debate on a package of budget bills passed by the Senate on Tuesday, July 4, 2017, at the Capitol in Springfield, Ill. The Illinois Senate OK'd an annual spending plan of $36 billion following a critical vote to raise the income tax rate, part of the approval process with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for what became Illinois' first budget in more than two years. (Rich Saal/The State Journal-Register via AP)
IllinoisBudget65151jpgfde58
Illinois Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, right, listens to debate on a package of budget bills passed by the Senate on Tuesday, July 4, 2017, at the Capitol in Springfield, Ill. The Illinois Senate OK'd an annual spending plan of $36 billion following a critical vote to raise the income tax rate, part of the approval process with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for what became Illinois' first budget in more than two years. (Rich Saal/The State Journal-Register via AP)
IllinoisBudget65151jpgfde58
Illinois Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, right, listens to debate on a package of budget bills passed by the Senate on Tuesday, July 4, 2017, at the Capitol in Springfield, Ill. The Illinois Senate OK'd an annual spending plan of $36 billion following a critical vote to raise the income tax rate, part of the approval process with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for what became Illinois' first budget in more than two years. (Rich Saal/The State Journal-Register via AP)

While any population growth is welcome, Pennsylvania’s 0.1-percent gain in new U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2017 isn’t much to get excited about. Nor should that gain, placing Pennsylvania ahead of Illinois as the fifth most populous state, herald any horn-blowing.

Sadly, the Keystone State teeters on the verge of matching the budget and tax woes that have made the Land of Lincoln the leading state for population losses for four straight years.

Illinois went more than two years without a budget before passing one this summer — with a 32-percent hike in the state income tax. And it’s “still digging itself out of the financial disarray that accumulated during the budget impasse,” reports the Chicago Tribune. The newspaper interviewed dozens of people who left Illinois, many of them for lower-tax Sun Belt states.

Inability to complete state budgets on time and seemingly ceaseless tax hikes should sound familiar to Pennsylvanians. Indeed, these two states’ fundamentally similar woes differ only in degree. Unless the Keystone State avoids more protracted budget battles and tax hikes, it all too easily could find itself in Illinois’ shoes when the Census Bureau updates population estimates over the next few years.

The worse that governance gets in a state, the more likely its people are to vote with their feet. Illinois’ hard lesson should be abundantly clear in Harrisburg.

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