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“If any region should feel alienated from state government, it’s the suburbanites”

Friday, Aug 17, 2018

* Tribune

The Illinois State Fair traditionally has been an unofficial kickoff for fall election campaigns, but it also has proven to be a place to see how candidates play on the state’s political and geographic diversity that often represents how Illinois votes.

Case in point: When Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner spoke before the fair in Downstate Springfield to the party’s State Central Committee and its county chairs, the largely Democratic city of Chicago was among his targets for criticism.

“Everything’s on the line,” the governor said. “We have the threat of complete hostile takeover of our state by the corrupt Chicago Machine. That’s what’s at stake right here.”

Playing regional politics in Illinois is nothing new for Rauner or other candidates over the years, leaning on stereotypes cast decades ago that can make people living outside Chicago feel they are being shortchanged when it comes to government services and the use of their tax dollars.

* Scroll all the way to the bottom of that story and you’ll see a reference to this recent Paul Simon Public Policy Institute research

The research shows the south region receives $2.81 in state funds for every $1 generated. The central Illinois region of 50 counties receives $1.87 back for every $1.00 sent to Springfield. All of the downstate regions receive more from the state budget than they pay in taxes. By comparison, Cook County receives 90 cents for every $1, and the suburban counties only 53 cents for every $1 generated.

* From a recent Champaign News-Gazette editorial

A 2017 Paul Simon Public Policy Institute survey found that downstaters especially thought state government ignored them. Asked “How much attention do you feel state government pays to what the people in your community think when it decides what to do,” 73 percent of downstaters replied “not much.” That was a marginally higher level of alienation than Chicagoans (72 percent) or suburbanites (67 percent).

If any region should feel alienated from state government, it’s the suburbanites, according to the research. They get back about 53 cents for every dollar sent to state government.

Ironically, it’s traditionally been downstate lawmakers who push frivolous notions to separate Chicago or Cook County from the rest of the state. The most recent is a resolution introduced late in May — long after the legislative deadline for consideration of such measures — that called on Congress to declare Chicago the 51st state and break it off from the rest of Illinois. The resolution’s sponsors included state Reps. Reggie Phillips and Brad Halbrook, both of whom represent counties with state universities and community colleges.

* One Illinois’ Ted Cox

Sometimes, what’s required is the compassion, understanding, and empathy to accept and act on those facts.

Chicagoans and suburbanites need to comprehend that the rest of the state not only has much to offer culturally, agriculturally, and aesthetically — in monuments like “The Hewer” in Cairo and in the vast green expanse known as the Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest — but it also needs that added assistance because it doesn’t have the resources the city and suburbs have at hand.

And residents in the rest of the state need to know when they’re being played by politicians lying to them that Chicago is a behemoth taking everything that’s best in Illinois and hoarding it away. It’s simply not factually true.

Meanwhile, suburbanites, who might be the first to grant that they have the best of both worlds, need something more than just recognition to keep them from feeling no better than a cash cow being milked by the rest of the state.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

40 Comments
  1. - Al - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:15 am:

    Downstate has industries like coal, oil and gas which generate significant revenue with little labor component. We do not collect a royalty and coal doesn’t even pay sales tax. The Simon institute study is flawed because the are using phony political numbers from governmental agencies which got it wrong.


  2. - Alex Ander - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:16 am:

    I agree with this and sadly it’s the people way down here that think they’re getting a raw deal. No matter what statistics and what numbers you show them they’ll deny, call it a lie, and call their opinion a fact.


  3. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:17 am:

    What’s missing is an analysis of why downstaters falsely believe they’re getting the short end of the tax and spending stick. I’d bet the resentment is not because city folk might not know much about farming or rural life.


  4. - anon2 - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:21 am:

    Downstate pols like to complain about the purported shortchanging of their region when it comes to state spending. Now that we know they disproportionately benefit from state spending, I don’t suppose they will object to that form of inequality.


  5. - Alex Ander - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:21 am:

    == Downstate has industries like coal, oil and gas which generate significant revenue with little labor component. We do not collect a royalty and coal doesn’t even pay sales tax. The Simon institute study is flawed because the are using phony political numbers from governmental agencies which got it wrong. ==

    Al, but Chicago and the surrounding area have:
    Archer Daniels Midland
    Allstate
    Excelon
    Walgreens
    Boeing
    Kraft Foods
    etc. etc, etc

    All of these companies are Fortune 500 companies and outproduce our coal and gas.


  6. - anon2 - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:23 am:

    == they are using phony political numbers from state agencies which got it wrong ==

    Can you offer a specific example or two of where state agencies are not accurately reporting the regions where their revenues are being spent? An assertion without evidence lacks credibility.


  7. - Alex Ander - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:24 am:

    === Downstate pols like to complain about the purported shortchanging of their region when it comes to state spending. Now that we know they disproportionately benefit from state spending, I don’t suppose they will object to that form of inequality.===

    They’ll continue to deny. Their constituents don’t believe this report so they’ll continue to say whatever it takes to stay in office.


  8. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:24 am:

    ===Downstate has industries like coal, oil and gas which generate significant revenue with little labor component. We do not collect a royalty and coal doesn’t even pay sales tax===

    Um, you contradicted yourself. This counts revenues sent to Springfield, not private money generated locally.

    Go take a nap.


  9. - Perrid - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:25 am:

    @Al, if you think you can better calculate the give and take of state government, by county, do it.


  10. - Roman - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:29 am:

    As pathetic as it is, at least there’s a political rational for Downstate back-benchers like Phillips and Halbrook to gin up regional (and racial) divisions. But it is inexcusable — both morally and politically — for a governor to do it. Hopefully a Rauner loss will discourage future governors from doing the same.


  11. - Because I said so.... - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:39 am:

    =Al, but Chicago and the surrounding area have:
    Archer Daniels Midland
    Allstate
    Excelon
    Walgreens
    Boeing
    Kraft Foods
    etc. etc, etc=

    Tell that to the South Suburbs.


  12. - Ok - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:40 am:

    Places that are closer to Shawnee National Forest than Chicago:

    - St. Louis
    - Evansville
    - Nashville
    - Louisville
    - Indianapolis
    - Memphis
    - Cincinnati
    - Branson
    - Little Rock

    Places that are closer to Chicago than Shawnee National Forest

    - The entire state of Wisconsin
    - The entire state of Michigan

    How much do we advertise in those 6 surrounding states to get them to come to Southern Illinois? Might be easier than getting folks from Chicago from a pure marketing angle.


  13. - Telly - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:42 am:

    Ted Cox really nails it. Unfortunately, the politics of resentment move more votes than messages of compassion and unity.


  14. - DuPage - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:44 am:

    The collar counties sending way more to Springfield then they get back has been going on for many decades, especially in state money for schools. The study just confirms what was already believed by collar county taxpayers.


  15. - AndyIllini - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:44 am:

    My gripe with Chicago as someone from the Metro-East isn’t that they take all the state’s resources or anything, it’s that its politicians, of both parties, have led us down a horrible path as a state. Illinois, without Chicago, say you drew a line at I-80, may be like Nebraska or Iowa or something. It’s not like we’d all be living in some utopian paradise, but we wouldn’t have gotten into the situation we’re in, where we face mountains of pension liabilities and a series of tax increases on top of an already high burden to pay off unfunded promises from the past.


  16. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:47 am:

    ===but we wouldn’t have gotten into the situation we’re in, where we face mountains of pension liabilities===

    LOLOL

    Perhaps you don’t realize that a whole lot of Downstate Republicans voted for those pension benefits.


  17. - VanillaMan - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:49 am:

    Downstate is to Chicago what a first wife is to a Hoolywood celebrity.

    Ignored?
    Downstate should be so lucky.


  18. - City Guy - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:49 am:

    There is one major mitigating factor with the low rate of return to suburbs. They are directly part of the City of Chicago’s economy and have access to the benefits (O’Hare, jobs, etc.) but have generally been developed with the intent of screening out poverty.


  19. - JS Mill - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:51 am:

    =especially in state money for schools.=

    Again with this? You need to go check your math as it pertains to schools. CPS and U-46 are the two largest recipients of state funding. Together they eclipse the funding sent south of I-80.


  20. - VanillaMan - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:53 am:

    ==) but have generally been developed with the intent of screening out poverty.==

    Wow. What a horrible thing to believe. Ever read any history beyond social justice garbage?


  21. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:55 am:

    One issue I have with the Simon study, is that they considered all of Cook County to be “Chicago”. Since the Cook suburbs have approximately 90% of the population of the city itself, it would be relevant to break out the actual city of Chicago from the rest of Cook County, both in terms of tax contributions and dollars received back.


  22. - Soccermom - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:55 am:

    Ted Cox.


  23. - VanillaMan - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:59 am:

    When you believe that governments are supposed to be agents for financial redistribution, you’ll always find inequities in the real world.

    You want to live somewhere that looks better than where you live? Move there. But I’ll warn ya - you’ll find inequalities there too and you’ll be whining again.


  24. - Alex Ander - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 12:00 pm:

    ==How much do we advertise in those 6 surrounding states to get them to come to Southern Illinois? Might be easier than getting folks from Chicago from a pure marketing angle.==

    But what does the Shawnee have that those listed places don’t have close by? Most of those places have a few trails, hills, and bluffs too. We have a lot of beautiful places down here, but it’s far from unique.


  25. - @misterjayem - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 12:02 pm:

    “If any region should feel alienated from state government, it’s the suburbanites”

    Speaking as a long-time suburbanite, we still got it pretty good.

    – MrJM


  26. - anon2 - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 12:09 pm:

    === CPS and U-46 together eclipse the school funding sent south of I-80 ===

    Don’t CPS and U-46 together have more students than school districts south of I-80? CPS had 371,382 students last school year, and U-46 had 40,210, for a total of 411,592. How many students are there in the shrinking rural districts south of I-80?


  27. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 12:23 pm:

    ===They are directly part of the City of Chicago’s economy and have access to the benefits (O’Hare, jobs, etc.) but have generally been developed with the intent of screening out poverty.===

    Again, go tell that to the south suburbs. The primary thing they are “screening out” today is existing and potential residents and businesses. We who do work there hear testimony of annual property tax bills that are sometimes twice the mortgage payment.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/opinion/ct-sta-slowik-cook-county-plan-st-0408-20180406-story.html


  28. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 12:32 pm:

    ==One issue I have with the Simon study, is that they considered all of Cook County to be “Chicago”.==

    The Simon study compares counties.

    One issue I have with the Simon study is they separate the SMSA Chicago Metropolitan Area into counties. The SMSA is an economic, social and geographic whole. People think nothing about crossing county lines to visit, eat a burger, etc. We listen to the same radio stations to hear about the snow that will fall on the whole area. But I guess you have to draw the line somewhere, or the study gets too complicated. So counties it is.


  29. - John Deere Green - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 12:36 pm:

    ==My gripe with Chicago as someone from the Metro-East isn’t that they take all the state’s resources or anything,==

    Gee, that’s a relief, since the data shows it doesn’t. And I had no idea Chicago legislators and governors put Illinois “into the situation we’re in” all by their lonesome. It’s like downstate legislators and governors didn’t exist or vote for/sign any of those “pension liabilities” and “tax increases.”


  30. - DuPage - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 1:10 pm:

    @- JS Mill - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 11:51 am:

    =especially in state money for schools.=

    ===Again with this? You need to go check your math as it pertains to schools. CPS and U-46 are the two largest recipients of state funding. Together they eclipse the funding sent south of I-80.===

    You proved the point. The Collar counties: Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, and Will. It does not include Chicago or suburban Cook county.
    Chicago and suburban Cook county have low assessments and low property taxes. U-46 is spread over parts of Cook, DuPage, and Kane. The owners of houses in Elgin for example, have drastic differences in property tax depending on which side of the county line they are on. Some areas have identical houses built at the same time by the same builder and are a few hundred feet apart. The house on the Kane county side has much, much higher taxes then the one in Cook county.
    In so far as Chicago and U46 being “largest recipients”, they are large districts with more students. Much of the state school money is based on the number of students. Of course U46 is going to receive more total dollars then smaller districts with a few hundred students. The part I was looking at is the ratio of state funding to local property taxes and income taxes sent into the state. The collars lose out.
    There was a group that wanted to split off northern Cook and annex on to DuPage county. When they found out how much their taxes would go up, they dropped their idea completely.


  31. - Cheryl44 - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 1:15 pm:

    We have cows in our zoos, so I don’t know what else you want from us.


  32. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 1:27 pm:

    It’s the people who scream bloody murder about Democratic spending who are gaining the most from it. Can we change this? Sorry for being so intrusive with willingness to help downstate.


  33. - Illinoisvoter - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 1:52 pm:

    Wondering if that 53 cents for the suburban counties includes the pension obligations that
    our schools and local government transfer
    over to the state?


  34. - Rod - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 2:00 pm:

    This discussion on splitting Illinois up and creating a metro Chicago State is actually similar to a debate in California and Oregon. The State of Jefferson idea is a proposed U.S. state that would span the contiguous, mostly rural area of southern Oregon and northern California. The idea currently has been shown to be bonkers because of the fires in these areas that are being fought in big part by the statewide fire agency Cal Fire.

    Just like Illinois these rural areas in California do not generate sufficient tax revenue to take on the massive fire fighting effort that has been underway for over a month. It’s the tax revenue from places like the LA metro area, San Diego, San Francisco, and Portland that drive the revenue streams to take on the multiple disasters hitting these areas. The entire thought of a Cook County State is goofy. Environmentally with a warming earth more floods are going to happen in southern Illinois and the Shawnee National Forest is going to be a tinder box. This is clearly not the time to go separate.


  35. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 2:38 pm:

    ==What’s missing is an analysis of why downstaters falsely believe they’re getting the short end of the tax and spending stick.==

    We don’t need an analysis. People were just taught wrong. Show them this study and most will come around. Of course there will be a few holdouts. These holdouts probably also think a third pound hamburger is smaller than a quarter pounder.


  36. - anon2 - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 3:54 pm:

    === Show them this study and most will come around.==

    “When there’s a conflict between partisan belief and plain evidence, it’s the beliefs that win.” — Marty Kaplan


  37. - Shemp - Friday, Aug 17, 18 @ 3:57 pm:

    But if the perception, right or wrong, is that policies from Chicago or suburban politicians have caused so much economic harm to your part of the State that you need the money shift, that study does no good in changing anyone’s mind.


  38. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, Aug 20, 18 @ 9:36 am:

    The study where the Marty Kaplan quote was used was very interesting.

    https://www.salon.com/2013/09/17/the_most_depressing_discovery_about_the_brain_ever_partner/

    But I doubt revenue out of counties versus revenue into counties is an emotional enough issue to reverse a graph or make 2+2=5. Kaplan refers to the power of emotion over reason. True, but I just don’t think county revenue has the same emotional influence as,say, abortion. There is no religious hook, nor a self esteem hook.


  39. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Monday, Aug 20, 18 @ 12:27 pm:

    =The Simon study compares counties=

    Actually, Wolf, the study compares “groups of counties”, the only singular county listed in the study is Cook, due to its large population, and also due to it being central to the premise that “Chicago benefits over Southern Illinois”. I have never believed this premise, by the way, but would love access to the original data (I couldn’t find a link in the study).

    It would be interesting to see the county-by-county breakout, and I would especially like to see the city of Chicago itself broken out to see if the city receives preferential treatment in tax distribution over the rest of Cook, and if so, by what amount. It would REALLY be interesting to break out different Legislative districts, to see if some of them are front loaded with goodies to keep their populace voting for a certain legislative leader (you can see where I’m going with this). If that were the case, however, I would hope that someone from the opposite party would highlight this, it seems like it would make a great talking point. I haven’t heard the study being refuted by other “think tanks”, so I’m assuming it was done “fairly and accurately”.


  40. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, Aug 20, 18 @ 1:37 pm:

    The study compares counties. That is where the raw data is. The link for the study can be found Friday Aug. 10 Capitol Fax. County by county data is in apprendix B of the study.

    Foster and Jackson then take that revenue data and group the counties into regions. Maybe one can disagree with their groupings (I would put Kendall County in with the collar counties) but they are looking at large scale overall differences not micro differences the way you would like. That would be a different study altogether. Foster and Jackson then conduct surveys based on their regional groupings. This part of the study is purely regional.

    Counties are used so you can have an apples to apples comparison, and I think that is why the study is done this way. Comparing cities would be difficult. There are so many of them. The sizes are so different. And how would you be able to compare cities to rural areas?

    There is no reason why someone should take away the idea that there are “good counties” and “naughty counties”. For example, roads are needed everywhere so people can get from point A to point B. In dense cities more people share the cost of the road than in sparsely populated area. Different levels of sharing infrastructure is just inherent in different densities of people. There is no way around it. There are several structural differences that make them different.


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