An education on the Illinois corruption tax

Illinois BlagoBy John Ruberry

Yes, there is a corruption tax in Illinois. It’s not an official levy, however–in other words, bribes to public officials aren’t taxed. It they were perhaps there would not be a $7 billion backlog of unpaid bills in the Prairie State.

What does the corruption tax cost per person?

The Northwest Times of Indiana has the answer:

Now new research by an Indiana University professor has found residents of the most corrupt states literally pay a steep price for crimes committed by their elected officials due to artificially inflated state spending that’s typically tied to public corruption.

John Mikesell, IU professor of public and environmental affairs, and Cheol Liu, assistant professor of public policy at City University of Hong Kong, determined that the 10 most corrupt U.S. states — which includes Illinois, but not Indiana — would have spent 5.2 percent less between 1997-2008 if they had only an average amount of corruption.

That translates to a corruption tax of $1,308 per person in those states.

That my friends is a lot of money.

Let me explain it differently. Let’s say you are living in a condominium where the landscaping firm, the laundry machine vendors, and the snow removal service company are paying kickbacks to the condo board members. Across the street is another condo that is run honestly. All things being equal, the monthly assessment for the second condo building will be less.

Blogger at Dixon, IL
Blogger at Dixon, IL

Although no one has been charged with a crime, a couple of new corruption stories broke in Illinois last week. Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, went on paid-leave after it was revealed that a no-bid $20.5 million principal training contract with her former employer is the subject of a federal probe. West of the city, the College of DuPage, a community college, is under federal investigation over alleged misspending and a $763,000 severance package given to the president of the school.

But there is some good news. Longtime Dixon, Illinois comptroller, Rita Crundwell, embezzled an astounding $54 million from the town of 15,000 that is best known as Ronald Reagan’s hometown. Her crimes are now the centerpiece of two Illinois college courses.

Perhaps Illinois is finally ready to learn from its mistakes.

John Ruberry, a fifth-generation Illinoisan, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.


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