Illinois lost more residents than any other state in 2016, according to U.S. Census data, and the trend appears to be continuing for 2017. What do you believe is the No. 1 reason for the exodus? What do you believe a governor can do to reverse the pattern?

General

As if in tribute to Illinois native Bill Murray's film, Groundhog Day, the Chicago Tribune has had to repeat the same — or nearly same policy questions — in each of the last three election cycles. It is a commentary on the fact that — despite the alarm being sounded every cycle — nothing in Illinois changes.

The state's political ruling class has failed to address our most daunting problems (despite years of compelling, and informed Tribune editorials.) So, what's changed? After three and a half years of Governor Rauner, our financial crisis is even more urgent, leaving no room for partial solutions or weak endeavors. I believe voters are, finally, ready for a policy revolt in state government. I am the only candidate in this race with the credibility to lead it.

The reason people are leaving? Too many Illinoisans no longer see a bright future for themselves and their families in Illinois. It's become too expensive to live in Illinois. Many Illinoisans are now paying property tax bills that are bigger than their mortgage payments. People also can't find enough good paying jobs. The state has lost over 300,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000. Disappearing working- and middle-class jobs means too many people can't afford a down payment on a home, provide for a college education or save for retirement. Other families, struggling with incomes that haven't kept up with inflation, simply can't make ends meet.

And too many of Illinois' governments are corrupt. Illinoisans have lost faith in their leaders — they are too self-serving and too wedded to special interests to care about the residents they are supposed to serve. Illinoisans collective vote of no confidence is why nearly every conversation with ordinary voters ends with them laying out their exit strategy from Illinois. Illinoisans are leaving because they have no faith that political leaders will reverse course.

As Governor, the most difficult thing to do is turn around public sentiment. And right now, Illinois families are borderline despondent about the direction of this state and our ability to course correct. There is no bigger indictment of the failures and betrayals of the political ruling class in Chicago and in Illinois than the fact that half the people here say they want to leave and 85%+ say Illinois is headed in the wrong direction.

We either get serious about structural reform of a state government that is not financeable in its current form--systemic change--or we will feed the fatalism that quickens Illinois' economic death spiral with businesses and families continuing to depart. It is time to completely rethink, re-engineeer and reintroduce a state government keeps its promises, balances its books, focuses on its core responsibilities in terms of the provision of services and the setting of the rules of the game. Illinoisans have a choice. They can stick with the same politics that's failed them again and again. Or they can make a change. I represent that change. I'll be a champion for Illinoisans and their communities.

Illinois is losing residents because decades of high taxes, burdensome regulations, budget deficits, and pension problems have made it difficult to raise a family and start a business. When neighboring states have lower property taxes, balanced budgets, and a friendly business environment, it's tough for us to compete. But we're not doomed to this future.

We can turn our state around by fixing our broken tax and regulatory systems and by having our government stop spending money we don't have. We also need a highly-educated and well-trained workforce that can compete in a modern economy. And we need to transform our vocational, technical, and apprenticeship programs so that those who choose not to attend a four-year college can still have an outstanding career with good pay.

As if in tribute to Illinois native Bill Murray's film, Groundhog Day, the Chicago Tribune has had to repeat the same — or nearly same policy questions — in each of the last three election cycles. It is a commentary on the fact that — despite the alarm being sounded every cycle — nothing in Illinois changes.

The state's political ruling class has failed to address our most daunting problems (despite years of compelling, and informed Tribune editorials.) So, what's changed? After three and a half years of Governor Rauner, our financial crisis is even more urgent, leaving no room for partial solutions or weak endeavors. I believe voters are, finally, ready for a policy revolt in state government. I am the only candidate in this race with the credibility to lead it.

The reason people are leaving? Too many Illinoisans no longer see a bright future for themselves and their families in Illinois. It's become too expensive to live in Illinois. Many Illinoisans are now paying property tax bills that are bigger than their mortgage payments. People also can't find enough good paying jobs. The state has lost over 300,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000. Disappearing working- and middle-class jobs means too many people can't afford a down payment on a home, provide for a college education or save for retirement. Other families, struggling with incomes that haven't kept up with inflation, simply can't make ends meet.

And too many of Illinois' governments are corrupt. Illinoisans have lost faith in their leaders — they are too self-serving and too wedded to special interests to care about the residents they are supposed to serve. Illinoisans collective vote of no confidence is why nearly every conversation with ordinary voters ends with them laying out their exit strategy from Illinois. Illinoisans are leaving because they have no faith that political leaders will reverse course.

As Governor, the most difficult thing to do is turn around public sentiment. And right now, Illinois families are borderline despondent about the direction of this state and our ability to course correct. There is no bigger indictment of the failures and betrayals of the political ruling class in Chicago and in Illinois than the fact that half the people here say they want to leave and 85%+ say Illinois is headed in the wrong direction.

We either get serious about structural reform of a state government that is not financeable in its current form--systemic change--or we will feed the fatalism that quickens Illinois' economic death spiral with businesses and families continuing to depart. It is time to completely rethink, re-engineeer and reintroduce a state government keeps its promises, balances its books, focuses on its core responsibilities in terms of the provision of services and the setting of the rules of the game. Illinoisans have a choice. They can stick with the same politics that's failed them again and again. Or they can make a change. I represent that change. I'll be a champion for Illinoisans and their communities.

Instability and mismanagement of the state are tied as the top reason people are leaving Illinois. People have uprooted themselves and their families in search of good paying jobs, a stable educational environment, a fairer tax system, and a state with a plan for economic development and opportunity.

Unfortunately, Bruce Rauner's fiscal mismanagement and manufactured 736-day budget crisis blocked critical investments in higher education, human services, and economic development in some of our most economically challenged communities. Rauner's divisive rhetoric and vilification of the Chicagoland region has pitted rural, suburban and urban communities against each other.

If we don't create jobs, we will certainly continue to lose population. Bruce Rauner's failed leadership and poor management has created instability across the state and exacerbated Illinois' already tenuous economic condition. During Bruce Rauner's tenure, job growth has slowed to a crawl.

It's no wonder that under Rauner's failed leadership, residents from Chicago to Cairo are choosing to flee. The same uncertainty that Rauner brought to the jobs front has caused a loss of faith in our institutions of higher learning. There have been double digit declines in enrollment at several Illinois universities and layoffs of faculty and staff. Students, families and school administrators have reported that the budget crisis and Rauner's disinvestment in public universities have shaken people's confidence in our state's commitment to higher education.

As a result, tens of thousands of students have left the state, and many will never return. We can reverse this outmigration trend if we provide workers, children and families with the tools they need for success — like quality, equitable public education, stable and affordable higher education, wage growth and job opportunities. That's why, as governor, I'll remain committed to creating jobs and economic opportunity, expanding healthcare, and investing in quality education, including universal preschool and quality childcare. I have worked in each of these areas over decades, and during this campaign, I have proposed real plans as outlined below.

1. The terrible financial status of the State of Illinois, including the very high tax burden, mainly property taxes.

2. The very high crime rate in Chicago.

I would solve the financial and debt and bond and pension problems by dissolving the State of Illinois politically and replacing it with three smaller states. These states would be 1. Chicago, 2. Suburban Cook and collar counties and 3. The rest of the state. Each state would be a brand new state with its own Constitution, Governor and two Senators. All debts and pensions plans would be divided up and each new state would handle these problems as they see fit. All financial obligations would be re-negotiable.

For property tax relief, see number 6. The extreme violence in Chicago, including 4,000 shootings and 800 murders per year should be addressed by taking the money out of the drug trade. Over half of these shootings are gang related and depriving the gangbangers of their drug trade would result in a marked decrease in the size and activity of these gangs. Marijuana should be legalized, preferably throughout the entire state to take the profit out of the marijuana trade. Cocaine and heroin should be decriminalized so that the medical community could treat these addicts as patients rather than criminals.

The number one reason for the population exodus is lack of economic opportunity. Illinois has one of the best systems of higher education in the nation, but many young people who come to Illinois to get educated leave our state because of a lack of opportunity to stay, start a career, and raise a family. I am not originally from Illinois.

I came to Illinois because I wanted to get involved in the anti-hunger movement. I got my start working in the food industry at ADM in downstate Illinois. There was opportunity to expand my career and stay in the state. That's what has been missing from Illinois for years and why we need new leadership.

The best thing a governor can do is show employers and the people of Illinois that the state has a new direction and that Illinois will take seriously its fiscal challenges. We must show that Illinois will invest in K-12 education, higher education, and economic development in new and meaningful ways.

Most importantly, Illinois' Governor must provide a sense of optimism about our state and its future. For decades, Illinois' Governors have engaged in political infighting and in certain cases have been a national embarrassment to our state. That needs to end if we are ever to put our state on the right track. We need a governor who will make us proud, will lead us in a new direction, and will promote optimism about the state's future.

The #1 reason for the exodus would be poor leadership and being overtaxed. Hardiman for Governor would reverse this exodus by providing effective leadership and supporting the Progressive Tax System.

Deindustrialization, globalization and automation have hurt Illinois, and Downstate has not been able to transform its economy the way the Chicago area has. Manufacturing output continues to be strong in Illinois, but manufacturing employment has declined substantially in this century. Go to any factory that has been in existence for 50 or 60 years that's still making the same product, and you'll see the parking lot is one-third full. This is due to automation.

Clearly, we have lost jobs to Mexico, China and other places with lower wages, and I do not want to see Illinois compete on the basis of low wages. The reality is that over time, businesses come and go. They go for reasons that usually have more to do with causes inherent to their business than anything else, but government can play a role in attracting new business. I don't blame Illinois' tax structure; it's not out of line with other locales. Illinois does have comparatively high costs for worker compensation insurance.

I think one problem that scares away potential investors in Illinois is our political unwillingness to address our debts. Those debts don't have to go away for Illinois to be an attractive business destination, but we have to embark on a sensible program for paying them off, so that businesses can see what the costs are and evaluate accordingly. But disinvesting in our state — letting our transportation systems crumble, letting our state universities slide into mediocrity — will not make Illinois attractive to business. Once we are on a path to solvency, we will have to advertise that to the business community, because Illinois has assets, including an educated and ready workforce and a strong transportation network that should make the state desirable.

Instability and mismanagement of the state are tied as the top reason people are leaving Illinois. People have uprooted themselves and their families in search of good paying jobs, a stable educational environment, a fairer tax system, and a state with a plan for economic development and opportunity.

Unfortunately, Bruce Rauner's fiscal mismanagement and manufactured 736-day budget crisis blocked critical investments in higher education, human services, and economic development in some of our most economically challenged communities. Rauner's divisive rhetoric and vilification of the Chicagoland region has pitted rural, suburban and urban communities against each other.

If we don't create jobs, we will certainly continue to lose population. Bruce Rauner's failed leadership and poor management has created instability across the state and exacerbated Illinois' already tenuous economic condition. During Bruce Rauner's tenure, job growth has slowed to a crawl.

It's no wonder that under Rauner's failed leadership, residents from Chicago to Cairo are choosing to flee. The same uncertainty that Rauner brought to the jobs front has caused a loss of faith in our institutions of higher learning. There have been double digit declines in enrollment at several Illinois universities and layoffs of faculty and staff. Students, families and school administrators have reported that the budget crisis and Rauner's disinvestment in public universities have shaken people's confidence in our state's commitment to higher education.

As a result, tens of thousands of students have left the state, and many will never return. We can reverse this outmigration trend if we provide workers, children and families with the tools they need for success — like quality, equitable public education, stable and affordable higher education, wage growth and job opportunities. That's why, as governor, I'll remain committed to creating jobs and economic opportunity, expanding healthcare, and investing in quality education, including universal preschool and quality childcare. I have worked in each of these areas over decades, and during this campaign, I have proposed real plans as outlined below.

The #1 reason for the exodus would be poor leadership and being overtaxed. Hardiman for Governor would reverse this exodus by providing effective leadership and supporting the Progressive Tax System.

Bruce Rauner's budget crisis is the most recent and dramatic reason for the exodus. As social services, government employees, infrastructure construction, schools, and other individuals, projects, and institutions went without funding, many Illinoisans lost faith in their government's commitment to serving their needs.

The budget crisis hurt businesses as well, costing jobs as a result, as an unstable economic climate made long-term decision-making and investing unnecessarily risky. However, Bruce Rauner's failures are not the source of Illinoisans' lack of faith in government, which has built up over decades of mismanagement and poor decisions based in tired machine politics.

Both Democratic and Republican administrations and legislatures have lurched from crisis to crisis rather than balancing the budget, and the past three years have been the last straw for thousands of people who have left the state. To remedy the failures of the past three years as well as the failures of the previous thirty, we need to pass a balanced and sustainable budget to fully fund our priorities, every year.

A budget should fully and fairly fund our public education system, restore support for social services and other government programs that Bruce Rauner dismantled, invest in infrastructure, and support these policies through taxes that do not disproportionately burden middle-class and working families. When we create a balanced budget that provides the stability Illinois families and businesses need, they will stay in this state for generations to come.