SIU researchers: Separation of Downstate from Chicago would mean ‘economic disaster’ | UES


For residents of northern Illinois who wish to break away from Chicago and its suburbs and form their own state, two researchers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale have a categorical caveat:

In a white paper released earlier this year by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, a university think tank, political scientists John Foster and John Jackson said the analysis of state revenue and budgeting Illinois in recent years shows that the people of northern Illinois would be worse off without Chicago than they are with their neighbors to the northeast.

“Our basic principle is that people really need to understand where their tax money is collected and where it is spent,” said Jackson, visiting professor at the Institute. “I have been at the SIU for over five decades and there has always been a fundamental misunderstanding about this. You always hear that we in southern Illinois don’t get our fair share and somehow still get “the short end of the stick.” This belief has a certain political and political impact. For example, I think it was part of the debate and the defeat of the progressive income tax as well as the movement to separate Illinois into two states. “


In the article “The Simon Review: The Politics of Public Budgeting in Illinois” published in April, the couple examined where state tax revenue is generated and where it has been spent over a four-year period. The result differs from the conventional wisdom shared by Jackson.

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“There is a long-standing myth in Illinois that lower state taxes go to Chicago and support Chicago and that is just not true,” said Foster, a former faculty member. political science of the SIU.

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

“Here in the 19 southern counties – basically I-64 south with the exception of the eastern metropolitan area of ​​St. Louis – we recoup between $ 2.75 and $ 3 for every dollar of tax we pay. depending on the year, ”Foster said. “On the other side, there are the suburban counties; they don’t get as much as they send.

The study examined government budgeting and revenue over the period 2013 to 2016.

Chicago - File photo

In this Sunday, May 31, 2020, file photo, Northbound Lake Shore Drive is empty of motorists heading to downtown Chicago as police forces pull over at the 31st Street exit as part of a ‘a security perimeter around the city center.

Charles Rex Arbogast, Associated Press

Jackson said the perception is that the lower part of the state is harmed because the northeastern part of the state has a stronger economy than most of the rest of Illinois.

Jackson said that is why the central and southern state felt the impact of Illinois’ fiscal impact from 2015 to 2017 more strongly than Chicagoland.

Foster said northern Illinois was more dependent on state funding than Chicago and its suburbs. In addition, he said that many of the pressure for a state split came from what he calls “rural resentment,” an aversion and distrust of the large urban area on the part of residents of the townships. less populated areas.

Governor JB Pritzker signs legislation “that will help make health care more accessible and affordable for Illinois residents who depend on the state’s Medicaid system,” according to the governor’s office.

“It is this resentment that fuels the perception that we have to go our separate ways,” he said, adding in strong terms that a secession from Cook and the Pass counties would not be beneficial.

Foster explained that the US Constitution makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for a single state to divide into two independent states. He said, in essence, that downstaters should be careful what they want.

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

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