Facts Matter: No data backs up claim that 'exodus' followed state tax increase

  • News that the "fish" in an online video isn't a mutant alien but instead is a 3-D animation isn't likely to surprise most people who come across it on social media.

    News that the "fish" in an online video isn't a mutant alien but instead is a 3-D animation isn't likely to surprise most people who come across it on social media. Snopes.com

Updated 6/29/2019 4:25 PM

While speaking at the City Club of Chicago earlier this month, Illinois Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington claimed the state saw its largest drop in population following the 2017 tax increase, according to PolitiFact.com.

Brady was taking aim at Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker's plan for graduated tax rates to replace the state's flat tax system.


"We stood united as Republicans against (the graduated tax) primarily because we could find no safeguards for middle-income families," Brady said during the speech. "The last income tax increase in the state of Illinois, we saw the largest exodus of middle-income families."

In 2017 lawmakers raised Illinois' flat income tax rate from 3.75% to 4.95%, according to PolitiFact. But the most recent available figures on residents leaving the state are from 2016.

Brady spokesman Jason Gerwig told PolitiFact the senator had meant to say low-income, not middle-income, families. He pointed to a Better Government Association analysis of tax filings between 2006 and 2016. During a four-year period in which the state's tax rate temporarily increased from 3% to 5%, the study showed the number of high-income filers increased but the number of low-income filers went down.

But that data precedes the 2017 income tax hike, PolitiFact noted.

Not a Trump crowd

A recent Facebook post includes a photo of a crowd and claims an Orlando, Florida, intersection was closed June 18 as supporters gathered, dressed mostly in red, to celebrate President Donald Trump's 2020 campaign launch.

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But the photo is actually basketball fans at Yonge Dundas Square in Toronto celebrating after the Raptors won the NBA championship on June 13, according to The Associated Press. Red is one of the Raptors' team colors.

The image shared on social media by people purporting to be loyal Trump supporters is consistent with aerial and video clips taken of fans by local Toronto media during the celebration, the AP said.

One image of Raptors fans miscaptioned as Trump supporters was a screenshot from video of the Toronto celebration taken by photographer Toby Guu, according to Snopes.com. Guu had posted the video footage to his Instagram page four days before the president's rally in Orlando.

Alien fish? No, 3-D animation

A video posted to social media showing a fish with a human face slowly making its way along a wooden platform is a actually computer-generated imagery, according to Snopes.com.


The video, which has been posted in many different languages, has been viewed millions of times since it first appeared in April, Snopes said.

As the video of the fish, with a face that resembles the cartoon character Thomas the Tank Engine, has been shared, users have referred to the creature as an alien fish, the result of nuclear fallout or human/fish crossbreeding, and the reincarnation of an unknown person.

Shortly after the footage appeared, the Chinese-language website MyGoPen talked to an animator who said the light and texture of the face clearly shows 3-D animation, not a human-faced fish, according to Snopes.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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