While the overall population grew moderately between 1990 and 2003,
increasing from 11.4 million to 12.7 million residents, major
changes have taken placed in the state's ethnic and racial
composition. Both the number of Hispanic (non-black) and Asian
residents doubled, while the number of non-Hispanic whites decreased
by 1.6 percent. The black population increased by 13 percent.
result, the percentage of white residents dropped from 75 percent in
1990 to 66 percent in 2003. While blacks still constitute the
state's second-largest group, at 15.2 percent, up from 14.9 percent
in 1990, they are closely followed by Hispanics, who made up nearly
14 percent, up from 7.4 percent in 1990. Also rapidly increasing
from a small base is the Asian population, growing to 5 percent of
the state's population, compared with 2.8 percent in 1990.
These demographic shifts are likely to have an impact on future
policymaking on several issues, according to "The State of the State
of Illinois," a report issued by the Institute of Government and
Cedric Herring, a sociologist at the institute, noted that
Illinois residents place state spending before education as the most
pressing problem facing the state. "Also, between 2002 and 2004,
economic concerns such as unemployment have risen to special
prominence," Herring wrote.
Despite a strained state budget, a majority of respondents want
the state government to increase spending in five areas -- medical
care, public health, job training, public schools and higher
education. There is considerably less support for increased spending
on prisons and highways, especially new highways. State spending on
the environment drew middling support.
There is a noticeable gap between black or Hispanic residents and
white residents on several issues. For example, 74 percent of the
blacks and 61 percent of the Hispanics polled favored additional
state spending on medical care, compared with 47 percent of white
Similarly, blacks (76 percent) and Hispanics (82 percent) were
more likely than whites (48 percent) to support more state money for
colleges and universities. "Because the proportions of
African-Americans and Hispanics in Illinois have increased, their
opinions are now weighted more heavily in the formulation of public
opinion in the state," Herring noted.
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He also wrote that many respondents "expressed a willingness to
pay as much as $300 per year in additional state taxes to prevent
cuts (in state services), and more than half were willing to pay at
least $250 more in taxes to avoid cuts."
Looking specifically at what taxes should be increased, 65
percent of respondents favored increasing corporate taxes, while
only 27 percent favored increasing personal income taxes and 21
percent favored increasing gas taxes.
Responses differed according to political affiliation and
geographic location. Self-identified Democrats from metropolitan
Chicago generally favored more government spending, while
self-identified Republicans from central and southern Illinois were
much less inclined to any increases.
The Institute of Government and Public Affairs report offers
expert analyses on various issues, including health policy,
conservation policies and the "digital divide" separating black and
Hispanic residents from white residents.
U of I contributors were J. Fred Giertz, an economist, writing on
the state's pension shortfall; Madhu Khanna, a professor of
agricultural and consumer economics, writing on cropland
conservation practices; Peter F. Mulhall, an adjunct professor in
community health, writing on after-school services; economist
Elizabeth T. Powers, writing on child care centers; and Robert F.
Rich, director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs,
writing on health policy issues.
Herring contributed an essay on the growing disparity in computer
training and knowledge between black or Hispanic residents and white
residents. "We continue to train racial minorities for occupations
with decreasing labor demands at the same time that we do not
sufficiently prepare them for jobs that are opening up in sectors
that lack skilled workers, especially in the computing professions,"
report from the Institute of Government and Public Affairs can
be downloaded from
[To download Adobe Acrobat Reader for the PDF
file, click here.]
[News release from the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]