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.