* That Paul Simon Public Policy Institute study on how Downstate counties get more back from the state than the taxpayers send to Springfield has gotten some traction. I wrote about it earlier this month, but here’s Jake Griffin at the Daily Herald with the latest report…
For every dollar DuPage County taxpayers send to Springfield, the state returns 31 cents.
That’s the lowest rate of return among all 102 counties in Illinois, according to a recently released study conducted by researchers at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
That puts DuPage County in a tie for the state’s biggest “giver.” Taxpayers in the other five counties in the Chicago area also put in more than what comes back from the state, according to the report. […]
Tiny Putnam County southwest of the Chicago area tied with DuPage, getting back 31 cents for every dollar sent to Springfield. That’s likely linked to a Cook County-based oil company that moved its sales offices to Putnam County to save on sales taxes.
The Daily Herald created a cool interactive county map, so click here and have a look.
* Chuck Sweeny at the Rockford Register Star…
When some politicians around here need a convenient excuse for the fiscal problem of the day, they go to their default position: Blame Chicago.
The party faithful are sure to believe anything and everything negative about the Windy City, which was given that name by New York newspapers’ editorial writers in the early 1890s to mock over-the-top boasts of Chicagoans touting their 1893 World’s Fair.
Blaming Chicago and Cook County — saying the city and the state’s most populous county take in more than their share of precious state money — is especially popular in the Rockford area.
The problem is, it’s not true. The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale ran the numbers.
* Doug Finke at the SJ-R…
The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute has some bad news for all those people who think Chicago gets all of the benefits of state spending.
In short, it doesn’t.
A paper titled “The Politics of Public Budgeting in Illinois” looked at how various regions of the state fared under state budgets. In other words, how much did a region pay in taxes vs. how much did the region get in return of state spending?
In Cook County, home of Chicago, where downstaters believe all of their tax money ends up, residents paid about $2 billion more in taxes than they got back from the state, the paper found. In the suburbs, people paid more than $4.2 billion more in taxes than they got back.
And downstate? They paid about $8 billion in taxes and got $12 billion worth of spending. The paper further separated areas of downstate and determined the central part of the region got back nearly twice as much as it paid in.
* Chris Kaergard at the Peoria Journal Star…
But the raw data is still fascinating — especially if you saw those original, condensed reports about our region taking more than it gives.
It’s true, regionally. But at the county-by-county level it seems that most of the Peoria region still actually gives more than it takes. (Fulton County is an exception, having both a high poverty concentration and a state prison. Knox and Stark counties also receive more than they give.)
Using the same controls researchers did regionally to account for the missing data on payments and revenue, we found that for every dollar Peoria County sends out in tax revenue it receives back about 93 cents. In Tazewell County it’s about 82 cents. Woodford County gets about 91 cents and it’s 88 cents in Marshall County.
* Kevin Schwaller at Peoria’s WMBD…
The study also showed that approximately 19.9 percent of the state’s disbursement revenue went towards southern Illinois, 12.4 percent went to central Illinois, 11.1 percent to northern Illinois, 8.7 percent went to southwest Illinois, 6.2 percent went to Cook County and 3.5 percent went towards the Chicago suburbs.
* Andrew Feather at WSIL TV…
“We get told that over and over again by people in office and people running for office that we’d be great as a state if just weren’t for us having to support Chicago,” [John Jackson of the Simon Institute] said.
Some have even proposed splitting Illinois into several states. In fact, Robert Marshall made separating the state the counterpoint of his failed Democratic Primary campaign earlier this year.
Jackson says such a change could have drastic effects.
“If it weren’t for the support from northeast Illinois we would be north Mississippi basically,” he said.
Union and Johnson Counties are the biggest beneficiaries of state funding, with each getting back more than six dollars for each dollar they send to Springfield.
* Greg Hinz at Crain’s Chicago Business…
As the report concludes in boldfaced type: “It is quite clear that downstate taxes are not being disproportionately siphoned off and spent in the city of Chicago. . . .The lower income regions of Illinois as a whole are receiving significantly more in state expenditures than they contribute in taxes. Indeed, in the southernmost region, there would be very little activity at all without the state.” […]
Why the sharp disparities? Part of it is that income levels tend to be lower the farther south you get. Another part is that state government and all of the state’s major public universities, except the University of Illinois at Chicago, are downstate. And the major state pension funds all are headquartered in central Illinois. […]
The study does have some flaws. For instance, it uses data that don’t yet incorporate changes in the state’s elementary and secondary school aid formula, which delivered a pile of new money to Chicago and other poorer school districts around the state. Also of interest is the conclusion that the current tax system “certainly is not progressive,” something that works to the advantage of higher-income areas.
But there should be no debate over its main finding: “Facts should count for something, indeed for a lot, and are essential to any form or rational decision-making.” Amen.
* Cole Lauterbach at the Illinois News Network…
Shelbyville state Rep. Brad Halbrook was a chief co-sponsor of a resolution urging Congress to recognize Chicago as the 51st state. He doesn’t dispute any of the report’s findings on state spending but said that it only tells half of the story in terms of regional antipathy for the power that Chicago politicians wield over the rest of Illinois.
“We continually see unfunded mandate after unfunded mandate,” he said. “Whether it’s on schools, local governments, or even individuals, we continue to see regulation that drives costs up.”
Illinois lawmakers often write laws that exclude or pertain to only Chicago by saying they’re only applicable or don’t apply to counties or municipalities with a population of more than two or three million people. Reasons for these exceptions vary and can be logical, but Halbrook said the laws tend to give Chicago more autonomy, send specific funds or services, or require things from other towns that are not required from the state’s largest city.
“Some of this legislation is for everybody but Chicago or Cook County,” he said. “They exempt themselves out and I think it’s really improper to do that.” […]
Jackson said those mandates and orders are small when compared to the amount the state spends on the regions, typically for higher education. Plus, it takes more than just Chicago lawmakers to pass state mandates. Many urban areas have legislators who often vote with Chicago on issues that Halbrook criticized.