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Why Illinois taxpayers feel fried

March 26, 2019 GMT

In some states, the politicians bring home the bacon.

In Illinois during the years, we have had to make do with the leftover grease.

Wallethub, a nonpartisan economic think tank, is out with a new study of the most and least federally dependent states. That’s a long way of explaining which states get the most federal dollars from Washington. The study deals with percentages (money per person) rather than raw total dollars.

Illinois was fifth from the bottom. The only states getting fewer federal dollars per person were Utah, New Jersey, Delaware and Kansas. This took place even though as a general rule, states that vote Democratic tend to get more bucks back than states that vote Republican.

Illinois also was worse than all of its neighbors. Kentucky was third best, Indiana 10th, Missouri 18th, Iowa 33rd and Wisconsin 36th. If you consider large Midwestern states, Illinois was at the bottom of that pile. Pennsylvania was 20th. Michigan was 27th. Ohio was 28th.

The study crunches several statistics. How many government grant dollars come back to a state. How many federal jobs does it have. How many dollars come back to a state compared to the dollars it sends to Washington.

In general, the Wallethub folks say, the efficiency in capturing federal dollars leaks over into local taxes. One of the reasons Illinois has high state and local taxes is its failure to get a better share of the dollars it pays in federal taxes.

Some of this cannot be helped, or cannot be changed overnight. It would help if we had a big national park. We don’t. The 12 acres of the Lincoln home in Springfield constitute our only national park. It would help if we had more military bases. We still have some, including Kankakee’s own site for Blackhawk helicopters, but such facilities as Chanute and Fort Sheridan are gone.

As a general rule, most Americans would prefer to see fewer people on federal assistance. A Rasmussen study, quoted by the Wallethub folks, says that 61 percent of us think too many people get federal assistance. Only nine percent of us want more people on federal aid.

But it is all perspective. One man’s boondoggle is someone else’s federal job or grant. And we could use some more of those.