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Legislator reacts to Illinois’ near bottom ranking in social mobility


(The Center Square) – Illinois state Sen. Mike Simmons, D-Chicago, argues no one should be surprised by the state’s dismal showing in a new Archbridge Institute report gauging social mobility.

“Just a couple months ago, systemic racism was declared a public health crisis by the Illinois Department of Public Health,” Simmons told The Center Square. “What that means is all of our institutions, whether we’re talking about health care, financial institutions that make loans or access to good schools, these are all things where we’re going to see all this data stubbornly persist across all these different outcome variables when it comes to the Black community.”

Simmons said there’s nothing inherent about the Black community that’s producing that kind of data.

“It’s well documented that these are systems that have not been brought to reckoning,” he said.

As part of the Archbridge report, researchers concluded Illinois ranks worst in the Midwest and No. 40 overall among all states in social mobility, with social capital being defined as “a measure of the networks of relationships held by people in society.”

In arriving at their findings, researchers weighed such variables as entrepreneurship and growth, institutions and rule of law, education and skills development and social capital, with Illinois ranking no higher than No. 32 in any of the categories.

“The reality is that all across the country, and certainly the Midwest is no exception, we know the system is just stacked and it is a lot harder for Black people to accumulate wealth,” Simmons said. “The racial wealth gap is well documented and that’s something that has persisted for generations.”

Simmons said it’s those conditions that have spurred him to take many of the stances he has at the state capitol.

“I think policymakers have to get more serious about this,” he said. “This is why I champion the child tax credit, because if we do a child tax credit in Illinois it will absolutely lift so many Black and brown families out of poverty. We’ve got to start people out on a strong path early in life.”

At No. 48, the state’s lowest marks were on the assessment of institutions and its rule of law, with researchers specifically looking at predatory state action and judicial system quality.