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Researcher: A separate state made from Downstate counties would be “by far, the poorest state in the country”

Friday, Jul 9, 2021

* From Les O’Dell at the Southern Illinoisan

“There’s a long-standing myth in Illinois that downstate taxes are going to Chicago and supporting Chicago and that is just not true,” [political scientist John Foster], a former member of the SIU political science faculty, explained.

In fact, he said, the research shows that Southern Illinois gets more in state funding for every dollar spent on taxes than any other part of the state.

“Here in the southern 19 counties — basically I-64 south with the exception of the metro east area of St. Louis — we are getting back between $2.75 and $3 for every one tax dollar we pay depending on the year,” Foster said. “On the other end of that are the suburban counties; they are not getting nearly as much back as they are sending.” […]

“If you could somehow get around the Constitutional issues and split, you would create a very poor state,” he said. “Illinois, as a whole, is very wealthy. In total, our economy is in the top 20 in the world, but if you separated the 96 counties outside of Cook County from it and those around it, the 96 would be, by far, the poorest state in the country. It would create an economic disaster.”

* More here. Take special note of the conclusion

Returning to the broader question we began with – the assertion that perception is more important than the facts – is a fundamental axiom of politics that does not bode especially well for mass democracy. Facts should count for something – indeed, for a lot – and are essential to any form of rational decision-making. Rational action at both the individual voter level and the aggregate public opinion level is crucially important in a representative democracy. The operation of a successful mass democracy depends in the long run on the people being well informed and acting according to reality rather than inaccurate perceptions and myth.

“Perception is reality” is destroying this country.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

51 Comments
  1. - NIU Grad - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 12:58 pm:

    This might be the most important thing I’ve read all week.


  2. - King Louis XVI - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 12:59 pm:

    –“Perception is reality” is destroying this country.–

    Agreed.


  3. - Lake County Mom - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:01 pm:

    I’m bookmarking this.


  4. - DuPage Dave - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:03 pm:

    At this point in American history the idea of “facts” has gone out the window.


  5. - Dan Johnson - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:04 pm:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about “perception is reality.”

    I think people in politics are accustomed to listening. That’s part of the job, right? Listen to what constituents think and feel and try to represent them.

    It’s not really part of the job of an elected official or a candidate to inform or challenge citizens who are totally wrong. Doesn’t tend to generate a lot of support.

    So *some* entity needs the job of directly challenging citizens that they are, in fact, totally full of it. They are repeating lies. (Not about everything, of course. Just that some things people say are total BS).

    I don’t have a great answer for what entity ought to do it. But some entity that builds an audience and/or a business model by directly challenging lies or falsehoods or myths would be enormously helpful.


  6. - Someone you Should Know - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:05 pm:

    ““Perception is reality” is destroying this country.”

    Aint’ that the truth man. So Bull Egesta is taken as Gospel. It’s almost scary. Orwellian for sure.


  7. - EssentialStateEmployeeFromChatham - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:05 pm:

    Maybe any calls to make a separate state from Downstate should require a stipulation that the new state has to annex St. Louis?


  8. - West Wing - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:05 pm:

    Extending the American Dream to every region of Illinois remains our unmet challenge. The Biden Administration’s economic actions will help, but we need leaders to focus more intensely on this.


  9. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:08 pm:

    I’ve told many in my circle just that for years. What they want is to create a state that would rival the deep south for lack of an economy and opportunity.

    But now it might be more appealing for the “northern” set to ditch those counties and just keep those dollars to ourselves.


  10. - The Captain - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:11 pm:

    Here’s the other thing:

    Let’s say you do create two states and you apportion existing state debt based on where it was incurred, to the extent that that’s feasible. The majority of state debt is pension debt and the majority of pension debt is in the TRS system, which has no Chicago members or Chicago debt. TRS debt would disproportionately go to the new downstate state.

    So not only would you be creating a very poor state, but it would be responsible for a whole lot of unfunded liability.


  11. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:12 pm:

    -Maybe any calls to make a separate state from Downstate should require a stipulation that the new state has to annex St. Louis?-

    St. Louis is too diverse for their liking.


  12. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:13 pm:

    Can’t like or appreciate this post enough.

    Thanks, Rich. Important stuff here.

    There are two groups who will never buy this, and perception is reality has morphed and warped truth so badly that…

    * The lemmings, who hate, who see She-Caw-Go as a racial and radical deterrent to a better Illinois, will never come to grips to what makes Illinois, as a whole, great, and that what they have now would be long gone if the went it alone…

    * The grifters, who know all these truths but feed off the lemmings for a sense of power, prestige, and wealth… and mock the lemmings as they know, these grifters, a 51st state would be ruinous, but as long as the checks clear and the cash flows, the grifters will be there to take.

    Remember;

    The likes of Kass, Proft, Statehouse Chick, IPI… they all still are here… in Illinois… and taking full advantages of those lemmings, facts be ….


  13. - Lucky Pierre - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:23 pm:

    Facts should count for something

    Cook County has a population of 5.2 million people

    The State has Illinois has 12.7 million residents

    How on earth could the 96 other counties in Illinois that have 7.5 million residents be one of the poorest states in the country?


  14. - Flat Bed Ford - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:23 pm:

    Two points. One, Those that want to separate into two states, Eastern Bloc specifically, need to know how stupid their “idea” is. Secondly, those that don’t live in downstate Illinois, Chicago Democrats specifically, need to do a much better job governing the whole state. Southern Illinois really needs some help and the fact that this study says a state made up of southern Illinois would be the poorest in the nation should tell you everything.


  15. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:26 pm:

    The likes of Kass, Proft, Statehouse Chick, IPI and all of their ilk are in some way wounded… by hatred.


  16. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:28 pm:

    ===How on earth could===

    lol

    Perception ain’t reality.


  17. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:29 pm:

    === Cook County has a population of 5.2 million people

    The State has Illinois has 12.7 million residents

    How on earth could the 96 other counties in Illinois that have 7.5 million residents be one of the poorest states in the country?===

    Didya factor in the other *5* counties in league with Cook or does your bot programming exclude math?

    My goodness gracious man…


  18. - JS Mill - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:38 pm:

    =How on earth could the 96 other counties in Illinois that have 7.5 million residents be one of the poorest states in the country?=

    Someday you need to get a clue. Cook County still has the highest density of business and wealth in Illinois and the midwest. For starters.

    What is considered Chicago Metro has 9.5 million people (it does take in part of NW Indiana). Cook and the collar counties account for about 8 million people and about 85% of Illinois wealth both in terms of dollars and GDP.

    But I am not sure why you care, you don’t like Illinois.


  19. - Norseman - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:39 pm:

    === the poorest state in the country. It would create an economic disaster.” ===

    I can hear the response from the proponents now. “What’s your point. We’ll be free of the dictates of the evil empire.”

    We really didn’t need a study to know splitting would be a horrible economic decision. And proponents really don’t care about facts.


  20. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:40 pm:

    ===But I am not sure why you care, you don’t like Illinois.===

    Many times I think - Lucky Pierre - is somehow a grifting bot… other times… a lemming bot to parrot the grifting line.

    Caring has no factor(?)


  21. - Captain Obvious - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:43 pm:

    Dan - respectfully disagree with you on the role of elected officials. They should absolutely be the party that informs the electorate about the realities and facts of issues facing the state. I get that they don’t want to alienate voters but going along with their nonsensical perceptions only perpetuates the problems. Such spin free truth telling is one of the foundations of true leadership, which as far as I can determine is non existent in Illinois politics. Too much perception, not enough reality.


  22. - Langhorne - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:45 pm:

    I was on staff when the early LRU reports, which supplied a lot of the basic data in this study, were originally released. (Nickname “in-out studies”). I can’t tell you how many bar room discussions I’ve had with intelligent people who are adamantly, stubbornly, convinced that Chicago is siphoning money from downstate.

    Facts? Data? Ha. The best I could do is point out where the population, retail, manufacturing, and overall general economic activity is primarily located. The money comes FROM there, because it IS there.


  23. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:46 pm:

    - Captain Obvious -

    You agree with the facts of the research?


  24. - Sir Reel - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:46 pm:

    What would the name of this state be?

    New Ignorance?


  25. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:47 pm:

    Right now one of the political parties is deeply engaged in dangerous conspiracies and lies, to pander to the GOP base. A Republican senator in Pennsylvania wants to conduct an Arizona-style election audit. This deep distrust of our electoral system and majority of voters, coupled with voter suppression laws, are very dangerous. The denial of science and attack of one of our most prominent doctors (Fauci) is another example, along with hatred of our government institutions, the “deep state.” Reagan is turning in his grave.


  26. - JB13 - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:48 pm:

    – if you separated the 96 counties outside of Cook County from it and those around it, the 96 would be, by far, the poorest state in the country. It would create an economic disaster. –

    Sounds like there *already is* an economic disaster, and the wealth contained in northeast Illinois merely papers it over, allowing us all to point at those hapless unvaccinated yokels down there, instead of actually doing something to help millions of people.

    But they’re all just white racist Trumpers, so forget ‘em, amirite?


  27. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:52 pm:

    === Sounds like there *already is* an economic disaster, and the wealth contained in northeast Illinois merely papers it over, allowing us all to point at those hapless unvaccinated yokels down there, instead of actually doing something to help millions of people.===

    Then why do a great many of their legislators in the 96…

    * vote against budget(s)
    * vote against infrastructure bills
    * vote against higher education (hurting towns in the 96)
    * vote against raising taxes on those where most of the wealthy might be

    Instead of seeing Red… maybe those legislators need to stop voting Red on bills.


  28. - Perrid - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:54 pm:

    Either I’m missing something (very likely)or the author got confused in his statement, about all 96 counties being the poorest state in the nation. From his paper I found this quote below, which says that all 96 would rank 41st based on median household income, and the 19 southernmost counties (not all 96) would be the poorest. If someone sees what I’m missing, let me know.

    Quote: “… a new “Downstate Illinois” made up of the remaining 96 counties would account for
    just 27% of present GDP and have a median household income of $45,752, which would rank
    41st, just ahead of Louisiana and South Carolina. Dividing further, a new state of “South Illinois” consisting of the 19 southernmost counties would be the poorest in the nation, ranking only ahead of territories such as Samoa and Puerto Rico.”


  29. - Ducky LaMoore - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 1:55 pm:

    “But they’re all just white racist Trumpers, so forget ‘em, amirite?”

    I am sitting down here amongst them. And I honestly don’t know how to help people that won’t help themselves, and don’t want the help. Do you think there is a big government solution to this problem?


  30. - Flying Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 2:00 pm:

    LP, Captain Obvious, et al.

    I’ve lived in Union county all my life.

    You don’t want to believe the report, drive down here. Union, Johnson, Pope, Pulaski, Alexander.

    Anyone with sense could have told you this was true years ago.

    Otherwise, you’re simply a troll.


  31. - Pink Spruce - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 2:00 pm:

    Lucky, if you add the five collar counties to Cook, the population is roughly 8.3 million (or two thirds of the state’s population).


  32. - Crispy - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 2:01 pm:

    Building on Ducky LaMoore’s comment, don’t inhabitants of so-called “Red” areas generally pride themselves on being members of the party of “personal responsibility”? And yet their constant refrain is “blame Chicago.” There’s a disconnect there. …


  33. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 2:01 pm:

    My only wish is that the people who disregard science and knowledge would do so in regard to the internet and cell phones.

    Can we convince them that the internet and cell phones are just the devil trying to tempt them with illusions and nothing they see on it is real, so they shouldn’t use it?

    I say that mostly in jest, but not completely.


  34. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 2:05 pm:

    “instead of actually doing something to help millions of people”

    A federal stimulus was enacted by Biden and Democrats that is helping everyone, including state and local governments, no thanks to Trump supporters and the GOP. Our state government passed a budget without deep cuts to downstate and everywhere else, no thanks to the ILGOP. Both Pritzker and Biden are urging people to get vaccinated, but who is fighting against that?

    But, we already knew that.


  35. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 2:09 pm:

    ===hapless unvaccinated yokels===

    Are you vaccinated? I can’t remember.

    Anywho…

    I live in Kendall County.

    For me… I’d want Cook and the 5 other counties to welcome Kendall in, because if I wanted to move to Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana… I’d do so. Chicago, third largest city and media market “stirs the drink”…


  36. - low level - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 2:28 pm:

    Chicago legislators should cosponsor these resolutions for downstate to leave Illinois.


  37. - Dr. Sax - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 2:31 pm:

    Let them go.


  38. - Moved East - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 2:39 pm:

    The State is never going to be separated into more than one State, so the debate from those who want to “secede” is useless and the “facts” of this article and what it may prove in an argument about a hypothetical situation is useless. I am going to keep working on making our State better and ignore all this stir up the base rhetoric and mic drop reporting because it is getting tired and both parties are losing me and millions of others.


  39. - Henry Francis - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 2:41 pm:

    The folks that want to have their own state aren’t really motivated by economic factors, so telling them they would be the poorest state isn’t giving to change their minds.

    The loudest complaints I hear from that neck of the woods are the manufactured social issues, and anything that is promoted by the Democratic Party. Give em their own state and they can be rid of those things.

    Has governor candidate Bailey campaigned on his plans to improve the economy in S Illinois? I haven’t heard any. I went to his website and the only thing he says about the economy is “he led the [futile] charge against sweeping executive orders that shuttered Illinois businesses . . .” No plans whatsoever.

    Economics just ain’t a top issue for these folks that want their own state.


  40. - Northsider - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 2:43 pm:

    For discussion’s sake, why assume that the collar counties would want to go (or stay with) with a Chicago-less Illinois?

    Where do people think the collars’ economic interests and ties lie?


  41. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 2:46 pm:

    === For discussion’s sake, why assume that the collar counties would want to go (or stay with) with a Chicago-less Illinois?

    Where do people think the collars’ economic interests and ties lie?===

    Dorms have been closed since May-ish

    How many commuter trains are heading to Peoria every work day?

    You won’t need you toes to count them


  42. - TrumpsSmallHands - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 2:48 pm:

    – Lucky Pierre

    Cook + the Suburbs (DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will) are home to 65% the states population and generate 73% of the GDP.

    In reality if we did split Illinois I would expect a number of additional counties to stick with Chicago which would only make “new” Illinois even worse off.


  43. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 2:57 pm:

    I recall ADM executives looking to move.

    They were in the 96 county “new” state

    They moved to Chicago

    Just one thought to “Illinois”, economic perception, and keeping ADM in Illinois, sure, but…


  44. - TheAardvark - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 3:13 pm:

    As a mostly lifelong resident of Union County, I can confirm the comments that a). this has been self-evident for years and b). the desire to break away has very little to do with economic issues. People just want to continue tilting at windmills and don’t care that grifters are playing them.


  45. - Captain Obvious - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 3:25 pm:

    Hey Elvis - where did I say I don’t believe the report? Try reading my comment again and concentrate hard.


  46. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 3:31 pm:

    === where did I say I don’t believe the report?===

    You said nothing of the report.

    You were pontificating about truth. I asked since, well, on your pontificating, wondered where you stood.

    ===Try reading my comment again and concentrate hard.===

    I’d suggest the same for you. :)


  47. - John Foster - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 3:40 pm:

    Perrid in the response above at 1:54 went to our original paper and got the quote right. 96 “downstate” counties (without Cook and the 5 collars) would become one of the poorest in the nation at 41 of 50. The southernmost 19 counties would be the poorest of 50. There was some confusion in the original article in the Southern.


  48. - Tear One - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 3:52 pm:

    O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave…
    O’er the land of confirmation bias and the home of belief perseverance?


  49. - Nick - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 4:05 pm:

    I’m a little dubious that’d we be “by far” the poorest in the nation. It’s pretty tough to be poorer than the likes of Mississippi or West Virginia, let alone by a significant margin.

    But rhetoric aside the basic point is undeniable. Chicagoland is the rich part of the state. Downstate benefits by being attached. Revenues flow down not up geographically. And any split would result in one state (downstate) becoming a basket case.


  50. - Blue Dog - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 4:35 pm:

    Wealth is not measured in monetary terms. Unless you want it to be.


  51. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 9, 21 @ 4:43 pm:

    === Wealth is not measured in monetary terms. Unless you want it to be.===

    Tell that to the bill collectors


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