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Taxes Go Up When States Have Higher Public Corruption

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

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Jon Delano Jon Delano
Jon Delano is a familiar face on KDKA-TV, having been the station's...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Public corruption is no stranger to this state, whether it’s Republicans like former Pennsylvania Sen. Jane Orie and House Speaker John Perzel or Democrats like former Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Veon and House Speaker Bill DeWeese.

But now, an academic study published in the Public Administration Review by Wiley links corruption to higher taxes.

“It’s on the order of $1,300 per capita, Prof. John Mikesell told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.

That’s $1,308 per person more in taxes.

Study co-author Mikesell, from the University of Indiana, says corrupt states like Pennsylvania also spend more money.

“We find that spending in the 10 most corrupt states is about 5.2 percent higher per capita,” says Mikesell.

Based on statistics from 1976 to 2008, the U.S. Justice Department says that Pennsylvania is one of the top 10 most corrupt states.

But a former federal prosecutor says that’s a misreading of statistics.

“The prosecutors are more aggressive, I think, in Pennsylvania than perhaps other states because they have two major cities to start with,” notes Jerry Johnson, the former U.S. Attorney for Western Pennsylvania.

Johnson says more convictions don’t necessarily mean more corruption.

“I don’t put a lot of credence in statistics over a wide range of variables,” he said.

But Prof. Mikesell says whatever the level of corruption, it forces state budgets to grow and “when the budget pie is larger, the opportunity for corruption is bigger.”

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