A case study in big government; Illinois

As is well known, Illinois has been the home of many a corrupt politician over the years. But what isn't generally recognized is that one of the reasons that's true is the huge number of targets of opportunity for the corrupt to exploit; the largest number of local taxing bodies in America.

There are more than 7,000 of them - 2,000 more than their closest rival Pennsylvania. And as Mike Lawrence, writing in the Chicago Tribune explains, the taxpayers who largely created these entities are keeping very poor track of what they are doing and resist reform:


"Illinois has high property taxes in part because we have more units of local government with independent property taxing authority than other states. Units of government are not held individually accountable, nor do they take responsibility for the overall tax burden," says J. Thomas Johnson, president of the Taxpayers' Federation of Illinois.

Johnson is chairman of the Taxpayer Action Board, appointed this spring by Gov. Pat Quinn to help curb state spending. Although its recommendations on health care, pensions and prisons have received the bulk of attention, the board also spotlighted excesses in educational administration.

The board found Illinois averages about 2,400 students per school district, second lowest among the largest states and a stark contrast to the almost 38,000 students per school district in Florida. It said our state and local taxes support 129 districts with fewer than 300 students and another 319 with fewer than 1,000.

It pegged potential savings to the state treasury from merging and reorganizing districts at $60 million to $120 million a year, not to mention an even greater reduction in local property taxes.

Consolidation pains communities, cowers politicians and consequently has occurred by trickle. Small-town residents fear identity loss. Folks in larger communities resist change for other reasons such as revulsion at integrating with long-time athletic rivals. However, despite the best efforts of educators, parents and taxpayers, too many students are receiving an education that inadequately prepares them to compete beyond high school and carries a questionable price tag.

Until taxpayers in Illinois realize that the taxing entities they created are driving property taxes ever higher - fueled also by corrupt politicians who staff these entities with cronies who then channel contracts to supporters and friends - Illinois will continue to be a high tax haven and home to a corrupt civil culture.

As night follows day, so too does waste and corruption follow big government.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky

As is well known, Illinois has been the home of many a corrupt politician over the years. But what isn't generally recognized is that one of the reasons that's true is the huge number of targets of opportunity for the corrupt to exploit; the largest number of local taxing bodies in America.

There are more than 7,000 of them - 2,000 more than their closest rival Pennsylvania. And as Mike Lawrence, writing in the Chicago Tribune explains, the taxpayers who largely created these entities are keeping very poor track of what they are doing and resist reform:


"Illinois has high property taxes in part because we have more units of local government with independent property taxing authority than other states. Units of government are not held individually accountable, nor do they take responsibility for the overall tax burden," says J. Thomas Johnson, president of the Taxpayers' Federation of Illinois.

Johnson is chairman of the Taxpayer Action Board, appointed this spring by Gov. Pat Quinn to help curb state spending. Although its recommendations on health care, pensions and prisons have received the bulk of attention, the board also spotlighted excesses in educational administration.

The board found Illinois averages about 2,400 students per school district, second lowest among the largest states and a stark contrast to the almost 38,000 students per school district in Florida. It said our state and local taxes support 129 districts with fewer than 300 students and another 319 with fewer than 1,000.

It pegged potential savings to the state treasury from merging and reorganizing districts at $60 million to $120 million a year, not to mention an even greater reduction in local property taxes.

Consolidation pains communities, cowers politicians and consequently has occurred by trickle. Small-town residents fear identity loss. Folks in larger communities resist change for other reasons such as revulsion at integrating with long-time athletic rivals. However, despite the best efforts of educators, parents and taxpayers, too many students are receiving an education that inadequately prepares them to compete beyond high school and carries a questionable price tag.

Until taxpayers in Illinois realize that the taxing entities they created are driving property taxes ever higher - fueled also by corrupt politicians who staff these entities with cronies who then channel contracts to supporters and friends - Illinois will continue to be a high tax haven and home to a corrupt civil culture.

As night follows day, so too does waste and corruption follow big government.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky