By Brad Bumsted, TribLive, June 10, 2014
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvanians pay inflated taxes because the state’s public corruption rate is among the highest in the nation, says a scholarly study based on data from the Justice Department.
The report in Public Administration Review shows public corruption “implicitly causes taxpayers to pay more,” said John Mikesell, an economics professor at Indiana University and co-author of the study.
Corruption costs taxpayers about $1,308 per person more per year in states with the most corruption, compared to states with average corruption levels, the study says.
Justice Department data place Pennsylvania historically among the 10 most corrupt states. Statistics from 1976 through 2008 rank the state with Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, South Dakota and Alaska.
The Justice Department defines public corruption as “crimes involving abuses of the public trust by government officials,” including crimes ranging from bribery, extortion and vote-buying to obstruction of justice, money laundering and fraud.” The data included 25,000 government officials convicted of crimes.
More recent federal figures, from 2001-2010, show Pennsylvania in the top 10 based on every 10,000 government employees, but ranked below that tier on a per-capita basis.
The research by Mikesell and Cheol Liu of City University of Hong Kong goes a step further, saying public corruption “distorts” the direction of state spending. “Compared to less corrupt states, more corrupt states are likely to spend more on corrections, construction and police,” on average, than on “education, welfare and health,” Liu said….
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