It’s no secret that Illinois is filled with corruption, so much so that an overwhelming 89 percent said it’s common here.
And now we can put a dollar amount on how much all those misdeeds by elected officials are costing taxpayers, thanks to John Mikesell, Indiana University professor of public and environmental affairs, and Cheol Liu, assistant professor of public policy at City University of Hong Kong
According to The Times of Northwest Indiana, the two determined that the 10 most corrupt states in the U.S. — yes, Illinois is on that list — would have spent 5.2 percent less from 1997 to 2008 if those states only had the average amount of corruption.
After crunching the numbers, that comes to an average of $1,308 per person in those states, or as they put it, a “corruption tax.”
Mikesell and Liu reviewed more than 25,000 federal corruption convictions of state and local officials between 1976 and 2008. They found most official misdeeds, and the associated excess spending, were concentrated in large construction projects, police and corrections, wages and borrowing. They said those areas are not inherently corrupt, but the big money at stake and often hidden long-term costs make it easier for politicians to seek a personal sweetener from deals they oversee.
“The empirical results show that states with higher levels of corruption tend to spend more on items on which corrupt officials may levy larger bribes at the expense of others,” they said.
In 2013, Illinois spent $932.47 per person more than Indiana, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. At the same time, Indiana spent more than twice as much from its general fund on education than Illinois.
The complete study is published in the May/June issue of Public Administration Review.