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No study

Monday, Nov 29, 2004

A few weeks ago, I asked my blog readers if they knew of any studies of Illinois state tax and spend “winners and losers” organized by county. I got this e-mail from Jim Nowlan, one of the brightest guys around, not long afterwards. He has since given permission to post it here, slightly redacted to remove some phone numbers.

From: “Jim Nowlan”
To: “Rich Miller Capitol Fax”
Subject: Re: winners and losers

Three decades ago former Dem state rep Doug Kane wrote his PhD dissertation on this topic and found that, generally speaking, the poorer counties (western and southern Illinois ) were the “winners” and the suburbs were the losers, with the City getting about as much back as it contributed.

Later the [Legislative Research Unit], under Pat O’Grady, I think, did their own analysis and found the same thing. Because LRU got flack for pointing all of this out, LRU decided never to do it again, if I recall correctly.

More recently, probably the late 1980s, Fred Giertz at the UI Institute of Government and a colleague conducted a similar analysis. Again, they found the same–southern and western Illinois counties were big “winners” and the suburbs big losers.

(If I recall correctly) Fred and his colleague noted, however, that actually these “winners” possibly should receive even more from the state because of their low incomes and greater needs in transportation and social services.

The big allocations of state dollars are, as you know, transportation, education, social services like MA, and of course the straight tax distribution of sales (which goes back on basis of where sale occurred) and income tax, which is on a per capita basis. The key to any analysis is the mix of programs you include.

But I would guess that regardless of the mix, the findings will show what all have found thus far.

IF I RECALL correctly, the LRU study found that Downstate received about $1.4 back for every dollar it sent to Springfield and the burbs about 80 cents for every dollar. This is all very rough, but I’ll stand by the thrust of these figures.

I think the Giertz study cab be founbd in a book edited by Peter nardulli on the topic of regionalism in Illinois, but I’m in Toulon this early Mon. a.m.
and don’t have it on these bookcases.

This isn’t over yet. I think we need a new study and am determined to get one done. After this year’s relentless Chicago-bashing in several downstate legislative campaigns, the taxpayers should be given the truth.

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


Mostly PR so far

Monday, Nov 29, 2004

But he’s got a lot of face time on TV, so it’s not a total loss:

Nearly two months after Gov. Rod Blagojevich introduced a prescription drug program he likened to “a prairie fire,'’ the I-SaveRx plan is barely smoldering.

Fewer than 1,100 people - out of an estimated 5 million uninsured residents in the participating states of Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri - have completed enrollment forms and ordered prescription drugs from the program’s wholesalers and pharmacies in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Central Illinois senior citizen advocates say poor timing and natural caution are the major reasons few people have signed up for the program.

And check out the PR campaign the governor has done on behalf of his pet program:

After kicking off the program in Chicago on Oct. 4 with Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, Blagojevich hit the road in a barnstorming promotional campaign that included stops at senior citizen centers in Chicago, Herrin, Collinsville, Standard, Rock Island, East Moline, Rockford, Peoria, Springfield, Decatur, Champaign and Danville.

Three weeks after the program’s start, the Illinois Department on Aging initiated a seven-week statewide tour that sent agency director Charles Johnson to senior centers in Chicago and nine suburban communities. Upcoming visits are scheduled to Mattoon, Charleston, O’Fallon, Alton and four Chicago suburbs.

The Blagojevich administration also is mailing information and enrollment forms to seniors statewide who fall within a certain income bracket, according to Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff.

Blagojevich again placed the program in the spotlight on Oct. 28 when he announced the “prairie fire” of a program was spreading to Missouri, bringing the total target population to more than 23 million residents - five million of whom are estimated to lack prescription drug insurance.

Not mentioned was that the guv also sent out a press release when the first person signed up for the program, heralding the major accomplishment.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


Not quite

Monday, Nov 29, 2004

From the AP today:

From 1998 to 2003, Illinois had the nation’s lowest average number of state employees compared with its population, U.S. Census Bureau data shows.

The average size of the state payroll during those years, roughly 161,000 employees, amounts to 130 employees for every 10,000 Illinois residents. That’s far below the national average of 175 employees for every 10,000 Americans and below levels in other large states, including California, Florida and Texas.

A watchdog group says the low numbers are a product of souring economic times that force everyone to cut back.

‘’It’s not unique to government by any means,'’ said Tim Bramlet, president of the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois. ‘’There’s just less resources available, and people are being asked to do more with less.'’

Um, not quite.

The low state employee ratio began in 1998, or at the very least the study covers the ratio beginning in 1998. That was a very good budget year. Lots of extra money was coming in. George Ryan wasn’t even elected yet. I think we had a low ratio even before then.

But watch the current governor take credit for this.

Also, according to the article:

Illinois saw the nation’s smallest increase in the monthly cost of paying its government employees — 15 percent compared with a national average of 27.6 percent.

Governor Blagojevich just negotiated his first union contract this year, and it was described as the most generous in the nation.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


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