Illinois: Last in credit, first in government

Ben Yount
Posted: Nov 29, 2013 5:00 AM
Illinois: Last in credit, first in government

By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.  — While Illinois lacks in the quality of its government — Thanks, Blagojevich — the state certainly has a lot of it.

A new report from the Illinois Policy Institute shows Illinois leads the nation in the number of government districts and tax

MORE IS NOT BETTER: Illinois has the most units of government in the country.


Residents know about state government, their city or town and their local school district.

But Brian Costin, the Illinois Policy Institute’s director of Government Reform, said there are dozens more governments that tax you and spend your money.

“In Illinois (there are) 54 governments per 100,000 residents,” Costin said.

Illinois, according to Costin’s study, has 6,963 units of local government. Texas has 5,147, and California has 4,425, even though both states have more than twice as many people as Illinois.

Library districts, fire protection districts, park districts, water reclamation districts and township governments all eat-up a portion of Illinois taxpayers’ bills.

“There are a number of governments that are not providing any government,” Costin said. “These are dependent governments.”

Costin says local taxpayers need to demand government entities, which collect taxes yet offer no services, be eliminated.

The state of Illinois collected $36.4 billion in taxes during 2012, $6 billion more than ever before.

SHRINK THE GOVERNMENT: The Illinois Policy Institute says taxpayers should demand “dependent governments” be eliminated.

But the state’s backlog of unpaid bills is also more than ever.

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said Illinois has $8.8 billion in unpaid or late bills.

Illinois’ 2011 “temporary” income tax increases were supposed to erase the backlog of bills, but Topinka has said Democratic state lawmakers have simply found new ways to spend that money.

State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, said voters are going to have a choice in 2014; Do they want more government or do they want a government they can afford?

“I hope the electorate focuses-in, because this particular time in our state’s history is extremely important,” Brady said.

Costin said the cost of government, at both the state and local level, is one of the biggest factors driving people out of Illinois.

“(The cost of government) affects whether people can afford to live and prosper in Illinois,” Costin said. “And I think this overabundance of local taxing bodies has prompted people to say, ‘Can I really afford to live in Illinois anymore?’.”

 Contact Benjamin Yount at and find him on Twitter @BenYount.

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