Illinois residents pay a “corruption tax” of $1,308, researchers say in a new study on the cost of corruption.
Indiana University professor John Mikesell and Cheol Liu, assistant professor of public policy at City University of Hong Kong, recently released a study that attempts to put a price tag on public corruption.
The two determined that the 10 most corrupt states – which included Illinois – would have spent 5.2% less in taxpayer dollars from 1997-2008 if they had an average, instead of an above average, amount of corruption.
The researchers first determined the most corrupt states by dividing the number of federal convictions of public officials in each state between 1976 and 2008 by the number of public employees. Mississippi was at the bottom of the list as the most corrupt state. Louisiana, Tennessee, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Alaska, South Dakota, Kentucky and Florida also ranked among the bottom 10 states.
Oregon was cited as the least corrupt state. Two states neighboring Illinois – Wisconsin and Iowa – were on the list of least corrupt, which also included Washington, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Utah, Nebraska, Colorado and Vermont.
After identifying the states with the most corruption, Mikesell and Liu then set about putting a price tag on that corruption.
They 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 also determined that one of the areas of government that pays the price for corruption is education, which tends to lose out on money in states with higher levels of corruption.
"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 told the Times of Northwest Indiana. "Policy makers should pay close attention that public resources are not used for private gains of the few but rather distributed effectively and fairly for various purposes."
The Newspapers also reported, “Spending comparisons between highly corrupt Illinois and Indiana, which placed in the middle tier of corrupt states, seem to bear out the researchers' conclusions.
“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.”